The race between Henry Cuellar, a centrist House Democrat running for his 10th term in Texas’ 28th District, and progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros is going into overtime.
Cisneros officially filed for a recount on Tuesday, after a canvass of the vote by the state Democratic party showed her down 281 votes, putting her well within the 10% margin necessary to be eligible for a recount.
CBS News has not projected a winner.
“Our community isn’t done fighting, we are filing for a recount. 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,” Cisneros said in a statement Monday.
Cuellar declared victory the night of the runoff election, when the count had him up 177 votes. He’s been able to build on his lead after mail and provisional ballots were counted in strongholds for him such as Webb and Starr County.
In a statement after Cisneros announced Monday that she’d file for a recount, Cuellar said to Democrats that “it is now time to come together and win the General Election in November.”
“My opponent has every legal right to call for a recount though she has previously stated that she ‘won’t stop fighting until every vote has been counted.’ Well, every vote has been counted,” he said. She has no path to victory and will not gain 281 votes. I welcome this process as it will only further verify our victory.”
Since the runoff election, Cisneros and allies have been fundraising for a potential recount. The base cost of a recount is at least $28,000 (a $100 deposit for every precinct) in addition to any staffing fees. If Cisneros is still trailing after the recount, her campaign will have to pay for the recount. If she has more votes and is declared the winner, she will receive her deposit back, and the counties will pay for any additional staffing fees.
“To help cover the cost of the recount, we’re launching a new fund to cover the costs to make sure every vote is counted,” read one fundraising email from the Justice Democrats group, a group backing Cisneros and other progressive challengers.
The timeline for the recount will be determined by the Texas Democratic Party, which will run the recount with the counties. They have until Thursday to determine whether to move forward with the recount and if so, must begin the process within a week after receiving the recount petition.
Cisneros challenged Cuellar in 2020 and lost by four percentage points. She forced a runoff during their March primary by holding Cuellar under 50%.
Cuellar has been backed by all three members of House Democratic leadership (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James Clyburn), while Cisneros has been endorsed by progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
The winner of the runoff in Texas’ 28th District will go on to face Republican candidate Cassy Garcia in the fall. One Democratic runoff in Texas’ 15th District, between Michelle Vallejo and Ruben Ramirez, also remains too close to call.
Vallejo leads by 23 votes according to the latest CBS News count. Vallejo declared victory, but Ramirez has called for a runoff.