Supporters of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar started a campaign to demerit and smear his Democratic challenger Jessica Cisneros, calling her a “homewrecker”, as early voting for a closely contested South Texas primary runoff starts with early voting.
Cisneros’ name and face crossed over with giant red letters reading Jessica Cisneros is a homewrecker could be seen on a billboard in Laredo. Underneath, reads a disclosure stating that the message was not paid or is affiliated with a political party or member.
The buyer of the billboard was identified as an advertising firm with ties with Cuellar. The advertising firm, Big River Media, spent $5,265 on May 13 on support for Cuellar, and the firm has worked with the U.S. Rep. in the past. In addition, potential voters in the district have been receiving text messages that say Cisneros has “no integrity knowingly sleeping with a married man”, but it remains unclear who is responsible for sending these texts.
These allegations make reference to a New York Post article made in March 2022 that stated that Jessica Cisneros had an affair with a teacher in high school when she was 18 years old (freshly a college student) and he was 40 years old. Emails and texts from that time were leaked where she told him she was heartbroken after he got married, shortly after ending their relationship.
It comes to show that for women, any type of personal dilemma or scandal could mean the ending of their career or reputation. Still, no one stops to think about the possible power imbalance in a relationship between a grown-up adult man who is a professor in an institution, and a freshman girl who just started college and is barely of legal age.
To these accusations, Cisneros stated for San Antonio Express-News that “My opponent and his supporters are so desperate to hold on to power that they have resorted to bullying me in hopes that they’ll be able to win,” she said. “I’m here to say that I will not be intimidated.”
This could also be a tactic to get attention away from Cuellar’s own personal scandals like the resurfacing of the case where he fired a pregnant staffer and asked for maternity leave. He is also under scrutiny among pro-choice Democrats for being openly against abortion, although he still has support within his own party.
Cisneros had been getting support from Laredo democratic voters after the possibility of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. She is actively pro-choice and has placed her stance to fight for women’s reproductive rights if she is elected, Cisneros is also backed up by members of her party like the U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.