Friday, March 31, 2023

Texas race tests abortion resonance with Democratic voters

SAN ANTONIO ( Associated Press) — In 2001 when Dr. By the time Hector Gonzalez arrived in Laredo, Texas, the last abortion clinic had already closed. He experienced firsthand the next 20 years where the largely Hispanic and heavily Catholic community on the border with Mexico generally took sides.

“Of course it was, ‘No abortions,'” said Gonzalez, the city’s former public health director.

That culture has helped protect the region’s nine-term congressman, Henri Cuellaro., who is one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress. But he faces the toughest challenge of his career Tuesday in a runoff election against progressive rival Jessica Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration attorney who supports abortion.

with the US Supreme Court In a ruling this summer set to potentially reverse abortion rights, Runoff is being closely watched for clues as to whether the issue will animate Democratic voters. Outside groups have poured money on the ground and on TV in South Texas, an indicator of a critical race, with abortion rights advocates trying to dampen expectations about the wider implications.

“National trends are not determined by an election and are not determined by an election,” said Lafonza Butler, president of Emily’s List, which supports women who advocate abortion rights and supports Cisneros.

Regardless, the race will provide insight into the direction of the Democratic Party. The Progressives have scored some notable victories so far this primary season, defeating a moderate candidate in the Senate primary in Pennsylvania last week and potentially ousting a sitting congressman in Oregon, where votes are still being counted. .

Eager to defend an incumbent, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stands with Kueller, even as she reaffirms her staunch support of abortion rights. Representative Jim Clyburn, the third-place Democrat in the House, campaigned with Cuellar in Texas this month, saying the most important priority should be keeping the seat in the hands of the party. He argued that Cisneros was in danger of losing to a Republican.

Still, a leaked draft of the court’s ruling in April has shaken up an already close and increasingly costly race. In the March primary, Cisneros ended up nearly 1,000 votes behind Cuellar, forcing a runoff after any candidate met the majority threshold to win outright. It was as close to Kueller as losing his 17-year hold on the seat.

But the runoff has also painted a steep climb. America’s abortion rights movement has faced this decline in an all-out attack on protestors — a challenge that’s also on display here in a solid Democratic field, with Republicans fighting further back. Nothing to say about it. – inclined districts

The result could reveal the extent of abortion as a provocative issue for voters. National polling before the leaked draft found abortions after other concerns, including high inflation and gun control.

“The people here are very generous,” said 76-year-old Martha Cerna, a retired schoolteacher in San Antonio who supports abortion facilities. “But the further you go into Texas, the worse it gets.”

Cerna lives in a part of Cuellar’s district that is more than a two-hour drive north of her hometown of Laredo. She appeared early in downtown San Antonio for an abortion-rights march and was shaded by the blazing South Texas sun in a plaza outside City Hall, where the current mayor and predecessor, former presidential candidate Julian Castro, was vocal for abortion rights. Huh. ,

Cisneros joined the march, but Cerna said the voters here are not the ones who need convincing. “So I think it’s going to be a tough sell for him, because there will be some Democrats who want to go with Kueller,” she said.

Cisneros, who was once an intern for Cuellar but now espouses Democrats’ left-wing support and agenda, has leaned to the contrary on abortion in the final weeks.

When a grand jury in South Texas charged a woman with murder over self-induced abortion in April, it happened in one of the district’s rural counties. The charges were swiftly dropped after attracting national outcry, but Cisneros pointed to it as a prosecution case for seeking health care.

“When we take the time to talk to people about what it really means to be pro, which means that the government shouldn’t be in the middle of these kinds of private decisions and abortion demands, people usually realizes that they are pro-choices,” she said in an interview.

Cuellar dismissed the impact of Supreme Court leaks at this month’s rally in San Antonio, saying voters know his position. His powerful allies in Congress have defended their support for Kueller, saying a loss would open the door for Republicans who are flipping the district to be more conservative when it comes to gun rights and border security.

In Laredo, where Kueller’s brother is the county sheriff, Gonzalez recalls that he took “a lot of heat” when his health department began offering birth control pills. He retired in 2019 and expressed disappointment that women seeking abortions had to drive for hours to the Rio Grande Valley – which now has the only clinic on the Texas-Mexico border – or San Antonio.

At a food truck outside San Antonio, 64-year-old City Ramos broke down from serving tacos and burgers to customers while describing protests against abortion. She called herself a Democrat and a strong Catholic who is not usually involved in politics. But, she said, Cisneros’ situation is one she can’t sit out.

“I am inspiring everyone to vote,” she said. “That’s a strong point for me.”


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