Progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros said Monday she would file for a recount in her primary runoff against Rep. Henry Cuellar after the Texas Democratic Party said fewer than 300 votes separated the two candidates.
Cisneros is trying for a second time to deny Cuellar another term representing the 28th Congressional District, which stretches from south of San Antonio to the Mexico border. She fell short in her effort two years ago.
“Our community isn’t done fighting, we are filing for a recount,” Cisneros said in a statement. “With just under 0.6 percent of the vote symbolizing such stark differences for the future in South Texas, I owe it to our community to see this through to the end.”
The state Democratic Party certified Monday that Cuellar had 281 more votes than Cisneros, according to both campaigns.
“My opponent has every legal right to call for a recount though she had previously stated that she ‘wont stop fighting until every vote has been counted.’ Well every vote has been counted,” Cuellar said in a statement. “She has no path to victory and will not gain 281 votes. I welcome this process as it will only further verify our victory.”
As of Friday, Cuellar was ahead by 197 votes in the May 24 primary with 99 percent of the vote in, according an NBC News tally of results.
The candidates were forced into a runoff after neither breached the 50 percent threshold needed to secure the party’s nomination in the March 1 primary. Cisneros got 46.6 percent of the vote to Cuellar’s 48.7 percent.
Cisneros lost the same primary in 2020, coming within 2,700 votes of Cuellar, who won outright with 52 percent of the vote.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans, aims to flip the district in November. The committee has listed the district, which is 78.2 percent Latino, as one of more than a dozen new midterm targets.
The district also borders the 23rd Congressional District, home to Uvalde, where a mass shooting at an elementary school late last month left 19 students and two teachers dead.
Cuellar’s re-election prospects were thrown into doubt this year after the FBI raided his home and his campaign office as part of an investigation into U.S. businessmen’s ties to Azerbaijan. Cuellar has denied any wrongdoing and has said the FBI investigation would clear him.
Zoë Richards is the evening politics reporter for NBC News.