Last Pro-Life Democrat in the U.S. House in Trouble as Recent Ratings Changes Confirm

by John Lopez

The first primary in 2022 is Texas on March 1, and in-person early voting began on Monday, February 14.

Like Illinois, Texas has an open primary election, and voter registration in Texas does not require the declaration of a political party for a registered voter, meaning any registered voter can vote in the primary of their choice on primary election day.

But unlike Illinois, Texas’ nominating primary is not winner-take-all. The winner of the primary must earn 50%+1 of the vote.  If not, the top-two finishers will advance to a head-to-head runoff where crossover voting is not allowed, though a voter who did not cast a ballot on primary day could vote in either party’s primary runoff. The Texas primary runoff is scheduled for May 24.

At the beginning of an election cycle, registered voters slates are wiped clean of their past primary election participation leaving voters free to choose which party’s ballot to vote on primary day.

While the Texas governor’s race highlights the statewide races (especially since neither U.S. Senate seat is up for election this year), several of the state’s congressional districts have intriguing matchups.

Political celebrities began descending upon Texas the weekend of February 12, starting with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D – NY-14), also known as AOC , who campaigned for leftist Democrat challenger Jessica Cisneros in TX-28, currently held by 9-term Congressman Henry Cuellar (D – Laredo).

Cuellar’s Record on Right-to-Life

Cuellar is the last pro-life Democrat in the U.S. House, and during the current Congress, Cuellar proved his pro-life credentials once again. He was the only Democrat to vote against H.R. 3755, the legislative codifying of Roe v. Wade euphemistically called “Women’s Health Protection Act.”

David E. Smith, through Illinois Family Institute, captured the legislation accurately in the title of his op-ed, “Radical Pro-Abortion Bill in Washington D.C.”, published on September 30, 2021.

Significance of the PRO Act as the Left Attempts to Takeover the American Workplace

Additionally, Cuellar was the lone Democrat voting against the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act last March, which marked the 2nd year in a row Cuellar voted against the pro-union legislation.

The PRO Act, which remains stalled in the U.S. Senate due to three Democratic senators refusing to cosponsor it, will update the National Labor Relations Act to empower the Federal government with oversight to ensure workers who want to organize into unions can do so, without businesses imposing impediments to unionize.

Components of the PRO Act include:

  • Overturning 27 states’ right-to-work laws, including Texas, which prevent compelling a worker to join a union and pay union dues against their will. (Union dues are most often spent on liberal political candidates and groups such as Planned Parenthood.)
  • Provide unions with personal identifiable information (PII) of workers in a business where the union is petitioning to form a local.
  • Nationalizes the “ABC test” to determine if a worker is an employee or a 1099 independent contractor, the latter including freelancers and gig economy workers who all receive 1099 forms for tax purposes.

There are other components in the legislation, including the joint-employer rule for franchises, but the risk to most 1099 independent contractors across the country is the ABC test.

What is the ABC Test?

The ABC test, when first implemented in California in 2020 through that state’s Assembly Bill 5, harmed over 2 million workers from freelance writers to independent truckers vital to the supply chain challenges facing the nation today.

Jim Thompson, September 2020

The left’s false narrative:  Businesses use 1099 independent contractors to purposely misclassify workers as 1099 independent contractors.

Reality:  Most 1099 workers exercise their freedom to choose the way they want to market their labor through 1099 independent contracting work.

A significant key component of the PRO Act is the implementation of the ABC test to classify workers, which was originally developed in the 1930s for factory workers.

The modern ABC test is a three-part test that differentiates W-2 employees from 1099 independent contractors for tax status. Under a law with the ABC test, a worker is automatically considered an employee for tax status unless they meet all three of the following criteria.

  1. The worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact;

  2. The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and

  3. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

B is where most 1099 workers run into trouble. This is where the left tries to force employers to reclassify their workers from 1099 independent contractors to W-2 employees, who would then likely be forced into union membership. Additionally, under the PRO Act, right-to-work laws in 27 states would be nullified.

The left’s government-knows-better mentality wants all workers to be forced into a union and pay union dues so that unions will fund leftist politicians and their causes, including Planned Parenthood.

The ABC test is currently used for tax status in two states: Massachusetts and California. The California AB5 law, effective January 1, 2020, implemented the ABC test for tax status.

Illinois uses the ABC test for workers and unemployment compensation, but NOT for tax status.  The “common law,” or “IRS test,” is used for tax status in Illinois which favors workers determining for themselves how to be classified.

Impacts of Congressman Cuellar’s Votes to Protect the Unborn and the American Worker

Cuellar’s vote angered leftist radicals who want abortion-on-demand as the law-of-the-land. His two votes against the PRO Act honked off unions. As a result, those two special interests have Cuellar in their crosshairs next week in the Texas Democratic primary.

Cuellar faces a rematch from leftist Jessica Cisneros, who narrowly lost to Cuellar in 2020. A third candidate, Tannya Benavides, is running on a pro-labor platform highlighting Cuellar’s opposition to the PRO Act.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Enter AOC, who returns to Texas after raising over $5 million in the span of a week for Texas relief efforts when the power grid failed last February in a winter storm.

While out-of-state AOC is not at the lofty heights of legendary historical figures like the original Tennessee Volunteers led by Davy Crockett in the 1830s, Texans greatly appreciated her ability to raise millions and had the monies distributed to help Texans in their time of need.

In anticipation of AOC’s Texas visit on February 12, the Cuellar campaign issued this statement:

“This election is taking place in the 28th Congressional District of Texas- not New York City.

“The voters will decide this election, not far left celebrities who stand for defunding the police, open borders, eliminating oil & gas jobs, and raising taxes on hard working Texans.

“Members should take care of their own district before taking failed ideas to South Texas.”

The preemptive strike anticipated much of AOC’s visit to bolster Cisneros’ challenge, including how AOC said it’s “in-evit-able” Texas will turn blue. Comparisons of associating Cuellar with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D – WV) and the failure to pass Build Back Better and blasting Cuellar for his votes to protect the unborn and against the PRO Act were also used.

On Tuesday, February 22, additional heavy hitters came to attack Cuellar, including U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) and NARAL President Mini Timmaraju.

Timing of the FBI Raids on Cuellar’s home and office

Outside of AOC’s greatly increased prominence in Texas, what also may help doom Cuellar’s reelection bid is the January 19 raid on his home and campaign office in Laredo by the FBI, due to a probe relating to Azerbaijan and several U.S. businessmen.

Media reports at the time did not indicate if Cuellar is a target of the probe, or if the federal grand jury in Washington needed access to records, making Cuellar a witness in the probe.

What is very clear is within a month of early voting, the raids against Cuellar became fair fodder for attack ads by super PACs targeting Cuellar’s defeat.

If the Democratic primary is won by Cisneros over Cuellar, look for Republicans to raise the stakes to flip the moderate to conservative district this fall, and in a large 7-person Republican primary field, two candidates, Casandra Garcia and Ed Cabrera, stand out.

Whether TX-28 can be decided without primary runoffs remains to be seen.

Ratings Changes

When the Texas Legislature completed its congressional remap of the 38 Texas U.S. House districts (an increase of 2 due to 2020 Census), the major ratings services offered the following ratings.

Ratings Service Initial Rating TX-28 Current Rating (eff. date) Notes
Cook Political Report with Amy Walter Strong/Safe Democrat Leans Democrat (2/18/22) Pre-primary FEC filings showed Cisneros raising most money
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball Likely Democrat Leans Democrat (1/26/22)

Week after FBI raid of Cuellar’s home and office


The 2-level ratings from Cook on Friday prove dramatic, based on evidence including polling Cisneros within striking distance of Cuellar to win the Democratic nomination outright.  Cuellar launching negative TV ads against Cisneros this past week confirms the Democrat primary is close.

On Saturday, February 19, Cuellar released a list of 171 local elected officials across the TX-28 who are standing with him and openly endorsing his reelection bid to a 10th term in Congress.

Latest independent public opinion polls indicate a statistical tie going into the final week of the primary campaign between Cuellar and Cisneros.

The final week will determine if TX-28 will be completely in play this fall.