House Speaker Nancy Pelosi erased any doubt Thursday about whether she backs Rep. Henry Cuellar‘s reelection push in Southwest Texas, saying the pro-life incumbent remains a “valued member of our caucus.”
The primary battle in the 28th Congressional District in Texas between Mr. Cuellar and his challenger, Jessica Cisneros, a pro-choice advocate, is testing how the recent leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade is reshaping the 2022 midterm election cycle.
“I’m supporting Henry Cuellar,” Ms. Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference Thursday on Capitol Hill. “He is a valued member of our caucus.”
Mr. Cuellar, a 66-year-old nine-term member of Congress, and Ms. Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration lawyer, advanced to a face-to-face May 24 runoff race after they both failed to capture more than 50% of the vote in the March primary.
Mr. Cuellar is the last pro-life Democrat standing in the House.
He was the sole Democrat in the House to vote last year against legislation that sought to codify abortion rights granted under the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision.
Mr. Cuellar‘s vote is now facing renewed scrutiny following the Supreme Court leak from liberal leaders and activists who have been trying to oust him for several years.
His rivals have cast his abortion views as out of step with the party faithful.
Ms. Pelosi, nonetheless, on Thursday downplayed his vote last year.
“He is not pro-choice, but we didn’t need him,” Ms. Pelosi said.
Sens. Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York are among the high-profile Democrats who have rallied behind Ms. Cisneros.
Ms. Pelosi also pushed back against the idea that Mr. Cuellar is ethically challenged following an FBI raid of his home and campaign office in January.
“The FBI has said he is not under investigation,” she said. “So it is up to his constituents to make the decision to send him to Congress.”