Justice Democrats Name 8-Term Incumbent As First Target In Bid To Primary Moderate Democrats

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Molly Prince Politics Reporter
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The progressive PAC credited with the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rise launched its first effort to unseat a moderate Democrat in 2020.

Justice Democrats announced their support for Jessica Cisneros to primary Democratic Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, who has represented the Lone Star State’s 28th Congressional District since 2005.

Cisneros, a 26-year-old immigration lawyer, is running on a progressive platform to mandate a $15 federal minimum wage, Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, free public college, increasing taxes and expanding social security, reported The Laredo Morning Times. She is also pro-abortion, anti-gun and opposes construction of a border wall.

Cueller has long been a target of Justice Democrats for not being progressive enough in a safely blue district, according to NBC News. Specifically, he is backed by the National Rifle Association, wants to defund sanctuary cities and voted to ban federal funding for abortion.

He defended his political stances in January when rumors of a primary began arising that he was a target of the left-wing group.

“I’ve been polling and my district is more moderate, conservative Democrats,” he said at the time. “I think an outside group that thinks that they know South Texas politics better than I do are going to find [that] out.”

Cueller handily won reelection in 2018 after receiving 84% of the vote. Democrats also won the district during 2016 presidential election when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outperformed President Donald Trump by 20 points. (RELATED: Ocasio-Cortez Hit With Another FEC Complaint Over Affiliation With Justice Democrats)

Cisneros is the first new primary candidate that Justice Democrats have endorsed for the 2020 election cycle.

“[She] represents the voices we so desperately need in Congress right now — millennial, working-class, Latina, first-generation immigrant, and dedicating her life to giving back to her community,” Alexandra Rojas, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

Over the past few weeks, Justice Democrats has begun supporting incumbent Democratic members of Congress for reelection. In addition to Ocasio-Cortez, the group endorsed Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Massachusetts Rep. Aryanna Pressley, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, California Rep. Ro Khanna, Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

“Our grassroots progressive movement has an opportunity to build a more accountable Democratic Party by unseating one of the worst amid our ranks and ushering in a new generation of leaders,” said Alexandra Rasiera, another executive director for Justice Democrats.

Justice Democrats revealed in April that the group would be creating its own infrastructure to fundraise for progressive primary challengers after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced it would not support a challenge to Democratic incumbents.

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