Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., didn’t take the election loss of her political ally well and had what critics called a “meltdown” on social media on Tuesday.
Far-left illegal immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros failed in her bid to unseat longtime conservative, anti-abortion Rep. Henry Cuellar in the Democratic primary for Texas’ 28th district.
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Cisneros has refused to concede the tight race. Cuellar has declared victory. As of Wednesday, the two were only separated by a narrow 175 votes and the tally will be recounted.
Ocasio-Cortez took to social media to blast Democratic Party leadership for rallying behind Cuellar, a nine-time incumbent.
Notably, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., backed Cuellar through in-person events, fundraising, and robocalls to loyal Democratic Party voters.
Ocasio-Cortez blasted their decision to back a conservative Democrat over her preferred Democratic socialist candidate, who was also endorsed and supported by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-V.T.
“Accountability isn’t partisan,” Ocasio-Cortez complained. “This was an utter failure of leadership.”
“Congress should not be an incumbent protection racket and sadly it is treated as such by far too many,” she continued. “The fact is those who fail their communities deserve to lose. They don’t need rescuing from powerful leaders who state they fight for gun safety, the right to choose, and more.”
“TX28 is an extremely close race,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “If Cuellar wins, leadership’s decision to go to the mat for a pro-NRA incumbent will be the reason why.”
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“If Cisneros pulls it out, they will have mobilized against a badly needed grassroots for Nov & fought against a historic victory. And for what?”
“The last time leadership waded in to save him, he thanked them by obstructing the party’s signature legislation, paving the way for the child tax credit to collapse and imperiling millions while taking a victory lap for it,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We can’t afford to reward such acts. We can do better.”
On the day of a mass shooting and weeks after news of Roe, Democratic Party leadership rallied for a pro-NRA, anti-choice incumbent under investigation in a close primary. Robocalls, fundraisers, all of it.
Accountability isn’t partisan. This was an utter failure of leadership.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 25, 2022
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TX28 is an extremely close race. If Cuellar wins, leadership’s decision to go to the mat for a pro-NRA incumbent will be the reason why. If Cisneros pulls it out, they will have mobilized against a badly needed grassroots for Nov & fought against a historic victory. And for what?
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 25, 2022
Cuellar is one of the only anti-abortion Democrats remaining in Congress. The tight race could offer clues over how much abortion rights could animate voters in the 2022 midterms.
Late Wednesday, the Associated Press said the race remained too close to call. Cuellar was leading Cisneros by just 0.38 percentage points out of 45,209 ballots counted. There likely remain a small number of absentee, provisional, and late-arriving mail ballots left to count.
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The winner will face Cassy Garcia, who won the Republican runoff for the seat.
Cuellar had come under increased attacks from abortion rights groups over his position in the weeks since a leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion draft showed the justices are poised to overturn a constitutional right to abortion, which has been in place for 50 years. It would then be up to the states to regulate abortion, unless Congress codifies into law the right to abortion access.
In March, Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration attorney, forced the runoff after she came within 1,000 votes of Cuellar in the primarily Hispanic district with a large Catholic population.
“It is our fundamental freedoms on the line,” Cisneros told reporters last week. “I am more than happy to do what we can to make sure we are delivering on the promises Democrats successfully ran on in 2020.”
In the closing weeks, pro-choice groups poured money and resources on the ground and across T.V. in South Texas, where Cuellar has been in office for 17 years and beat Cisneros in the primary two years ago.
Cuellar came under scrutiny in January after FBI agents searched his house in the border city of Laredo as part of an investigation related to the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan. His lawyer said last month that federal authorities informed him that Cuellar was not the target of the investigation. The FBI and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington had declined to comment.
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Cuellar has a better pulse on South Texas, where the GOP is taking a bigger swing in 2022 after decades of writing off the region as a Democratic stronghold.
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The new optimism by Republicans along Texas’ border with Mexico comes after several counties showed a dramatic increase in support for GOP candidates in 2020.
“What the progressives in Washington, D.C., don’t understand is that much of our Hispanic population in South Texas is pretty conservative, sort of from a cultural standpoint,” Cornyn said last week. “And I think Henry fits that district and that temperament and that attitude very well.”
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article