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Embattled Congressman Henry Cuellar to face veteran Jay Furman in November

Jay Furman (left) and Henry Cuellar (right).
David Martin Davies & Gideon Rodgers
Jay Furman (left) and Henry Cuellar (right)

Jay Furman, a veteran, defeated rancher Lazaro Garza Jr. in a GOP primary runoff that determined who will challenge Congressman Henry Cuellar in November's general election.

Furman on Tuesday won more than 64% of the vote to Garza's 35%.

The longtime Democratic congressman, who has served in the 28th Congressional District since 2005, is at his most vulnerable because of serious legal problems.

He and his wife were indicted earlier this May on federal charges of money laundering, bribery, and conspiracy. The couple denied the allegations. Their next court date is in July, and the trial is scheduled to begin in late March 2025.

The Democratic congressman is alleged to have accepted bribes to advance the interests of Azerbaijan, according to the Department of Justice. His wife Imelda faced similar indictments.

Cuellar, who is on leave as ranking member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, said he will continue to seek election in November.

The Laredo Democrat said his top priorities are infrastructure funding, border security and trade.

Furman campaigned on restricting migration at the southwest border and expanding local infrastructure in support of international trade.

The 28th Congressional District runs from the eastern outskirts of San Antonio down to the U.S. Mexico border. The district traditionally leaned Democratic, according to the Cook Political Report.

By the time he and his wife were indicted Friday on federal charges of money laundering, bribery, and conspiracy, many of his supporters had already moved on from the news that his office was raided by the FBI in January 2022.

As the general election begins, we are eager to remind voters that Henry Cuellar uses his political position to enrich himself, forgetting Texans back home who are squeezed by inflation," said National Republican Congressional Committee Spokeswoman Delanie Bomar. "Cuellar serves himself while Furman fights for the people.” 

The National Republican Congressional Committee has so far not targeted this race as seriously it has other South Texas Districts 15 and 34, but it did call on Cuellar's colleagues to urge him to resign. So far, none of his Texas colleagues have done so.

Cuellar's brother Martin is the sheriff of Webb County.

His sister, Rosie, lost a Democratic primary runoff Tuesday night in Texas House District 80. Rosie Cuellar was defeated by Cecilia Castellano, who will run against former Uvalde mayor Don McLaughlin, a Republican, in November to represent the district that runs from Uvalde to Webb County.

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