With almost all precincts reporting, the congressman had received 57 percent of the ballots compared to his opponent’s 43 percent.
Five minutes after the Associated Press called the race for Cuellar at 11:12 p.m., the congressman tweeted, “Looks like you’ll have plenty of free time to audition for Narcos in the near future (Garcia)! Nice try Cassy! It may require you learning Spanish. Rosetta Stone is on standby!”
During the race, the two candidates had traded insults in Spanish and Cuellar suggested that Garcia does not know the language. He continued to mock Garcia and her staff on Twitter after his victory.
After Cuellar’s initial comments, Garcia thanked her supporters and congratulated her opponent in a social media post.
“I want to thank my family, my team, and everyone who believed in me. I gave it my all, but unfortunately, we came up short tonight,” Garcia tweeted shortly before midnight. “I congratulate (Cuellar) on his win. It was an honor to run to represent South Texas. I will always have your back. God bless you all!”
“Nice try!” Cuellar reacted.
Cuellar’s victory followed a barrage of attacks on his candidacy from Garcia’s campaign over a federal raid of his residence in January and an accompanying campaign finance investigation.
Garcia and the Republican National Committee also accused Cuellar of being associated with the Los Zetas criminal cartel due to a reported $1,000 campaign contribution in 2006 from the wife of a Mexican citizen who was later convicted of money laundering. Cuellar characterized the advertisement broadcasting the allegation as “blatantly false,” noting that his campaign donated the money to charity upon becoming aware of the source.
Cuellar is regarded as one of the most moderate Democrats in Congress. He describes himself as pro-life and has been a critic of the Biden administration’s border security policies during the illegal immigration crisis.
The congressman’s candidacy survived a Democratic runoff with Jessica Cisneros, a staunch progressive who highlighted Cuellar’s more conservative positions on the issues. Cuellar defeated Cisneros by fewer than 300 votes in the May 24 runoff.
Former President Bill Clinton traveled to South Texas this week to campaign for Cuellar and Democratic nominee Michelle Vallejo, who lost to Congresswoman-elect Monica De La Cruz (R-TX-34) on Election Day.
Garcia was a deputy state director for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). She was also appointed by President Trump to the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."