Texans Head to Polls in First Primary of 2022
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
Texans of both political parties go to the polls today for the first primary election of the year.
In a closely watched congressional race in south Texas, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, is facing off against progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros, his former intern who came within 3,000 votes of an upset victory in 2020.
Kelly Dittmar, director of research at the Center for American Women and Politics, said for many candidates, an election loss is just the beginning of a political career.
"The importance of women not losing and giving up the first time, that persistence is important," Dittmar explained. "That's one of the story lines there in that race that matters."
Cuellar's home was raided by the FBI in January as part of an investigation related to the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan. Cuellar has maintained his innocence.
In recent years, Dittmar said at least half of the 36 Texas congressional races had a woman on the ballot representing a variety of cultures.
"The intersections in terms of diversity that we're seeing grow among the women in Congress," Dittmar observed. "We're seeing younger women get elected to Congress. That's important for generational perspective, and we're also seeing greater racial and ethnic diversity among those women."
After two election cycles in which record numbers of women ran for and won congressional office, Dittmar pointed out the 2022 election presents hurdles for incumbent women in the U.S. House because of congressional reapportionment and redistricting
She emphasized if some do not win this time around, there is incentive to try again.
"There's your networks of voters, there's your networks of volunteers, and there's your network of donors," Dittmar outlined. "All of those levels you come in with an advantage often the second time or event third time around."
Historically, turnout for primary elections in Texas is low. State Republicans last year enacted changes to voting rules, causing many ballots to be rejected ahead of the primary.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.
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