The super PAC arm of EMILY’s List, Democrats’ flagship pro-abortion rights group, is going on the air in Texas targeting Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar ahead of his primary runoff this month.
Women Vote! booked $526,000 in TV ads Friday to support Jessica Cisneros, an immigration attorney challenging the longtime incumbent, according to AdImpact, a firm that tracks media buys.
Cuellar, the only House Democrat who opposes abortion rights, inched into first place in the March primary by less than 1,000 votes, but he did not clear the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid the one-on-one May 24 runoff against Cisneros.
And the release this month of a draft decision that revealed the Supreme Court had voted to overturn Roe upended the race again, placing an uncomfortable spotlight on Cuellar.
But he had air support from AIPAC’s super PAC and Mainstream Democrats, a group funded by donors including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. Together those groups and Cuellar had been largely outspending Cisneros each week — until this week, when the challenger placed a huge ad buy. Notably, the first ad from Mainstream Democrats muddied the waters on abortion policy in the race, saying that Cuellar “has made it clear that he opposes a ban on abortion.”
That comes from Cuellar’s statement after POLITICO reported the draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe, in which he said he does not support abortion but “we cannot have an outright ban. There must be exceptions in the case of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother.”
EMILY’s List trashed the Mainstream Democrats ad in a statement earlier Friday. “No matter what this ad says, Henry Cuellar’s record on abortion rights is clear: he will advance his anti-choice views at the expense of our health, futures, and bodily autonomy,” EMILY’s List president Laphonza Butler said.
Cisneros has outraised Cuellar, especially recently. From April 1 to May 4, Cisneros pulled in $1.2 million, according to reports recently filed with the Federal Election Commission. Cuellar raised just $352,000.