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Progressives who helped elect AOC say "fake Democrat" in Texas is their first 2020 target

Henry Cuellar votes with Republicans most of the time and has received campaign money and an “A” rating from the NRA.

by Rex Santus
Jan 11 2019, 9:52pm

Justice Democrats — the progressive group founded after the 2016 election to reform the Democratic Party that helped lift Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to victory — has announced its first primary target in 2020: Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, whom they’re calling a “fake Democrat.”

Justice Democrats announced Friday that it is raising funds to support a primary challenger against Cuellar, a 63-year-old who votes with Republicans 69 percent of the time and has received campaign money and an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. He has been a member of Congress since 2005.

“Despite representing one of the safest Democratic districts in the country, Rep. Cuellar of Texas' 28th district has been a consistent ally of the Republican Party and Donald Trump,” Justice Democrats said in an announcement message. “That's why we're now leading a grassroots candidate recruitment effort to find a primary challenger against Cuellar, and replace him with the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Ayanna Pressley.”

Cuellar is an especially vulnerable target because he accepts an enormous amount of cash from the oil and gas industry. In the 2018 campaign cycle, Cuellar accepted $165,000 from the oil and gas industry — more than any other industry that financed his campaign.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s most prominent policy issue to date is the environment: She has ardently campaigned for a Green New Deal, which would decarbonize the U.S. economy and invest in green infrastructure and jobs, and called for all Democrats to stop accepting money from the fossil fuel industry. The congresswoman from New York has not commented on the plan to primary Cuellar.

Cuellar has also helped fundraise for Republicans in the past. He is a member and former co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition, the furthest-right Democratic caucus in Congress.

Cuellar’s office did not immediately respond to a phone call and email asking for comment.

Cover: Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, is seen during a House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee markup of the FY2019 Homeland Security Appropriations bill in Rayburn Building on July 19, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)