TEXAS TRIBUNE: Outside money floods Cuellar primary, with U.S. Chamber of Commerce latest to join the fray

Tuesday, February 4, 2020 - 12:30pm

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar's primary is attracting a gusher of outside money as the Laredo Democrat works to fend off challenger Jessica Cisneros.

The latest entrant is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which started a six-figure TV ad buy Tuesday in support of Cuellar. It is a somewhat unusual move by the powerful Republican-leaning business group, which has previously supported centrist Democrats but has not spent seriously on behalf of one since 2014.

Now the U.S. Chamber is teaming up with the Laredo Chamber and Texas Association of Business to defend Cuellar against Cisneros, a Laredo attorney backed by Justice Democrats, the insurgent progressive group known for helping elect freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

"This is a first for us, and we're putting our money where our mouth is," said Scott Reed, the U.S. Chamber's senior political strategist. "It's game on, Justice Democrats."

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Reed said the ad will air on broadcast, cable and over-the-top platforms. The Chamber is focused on pro-Cuellar messaging for now, Reed said.

That the Chamber is going to bat for Cuellar is not entirely surprising. He was easily the top-ranked Democrat on the group's latest scorecard, getting a 91% grade for the year and 85% cumulatively.

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