The Sentinel Action Fund, a Political Action Committee that supports conservative candidates nationwide, came out with a new ad last week backing Texas Republican Cassy Garcia, who is running to unseat U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar in Texas’ 28th Congressional District in southern Texas.
The ad revives the National Border Patrol Council’s endorsement for Garcia, a shift from the group’s 2020 endorsement for Cuellar.
“In two years, four million people have tried to cross the border. We’re overrun. Crime is out of control. It’s Washington’s fault and something has to change,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd opens in the ad.
“We represent the frontline men and women in the border patrol. Our agents need help in Washington, and that’s why they need Cassy Garcia.”
The ad is the latest attempt to bolster the GOP’s shot of flipping the historically deep blue district to Republican control. The District includes nearly 309,000 registered Democrats, with just about 80,000 Republicans and fewer than 40,000 independents, according to the most recent L2 voter data.
Efforts have centered on pushing the immigration debate that has been dominating political discourse in border states.
The ad does not level any specific critiques at Cuellar. But by placing blame for the influx in border crossings at Washington’s feet, it sends a clear message that Democrats like Cuellar are fueling the challenge.
The endorsement swap actually happened in January. At the time, the National Republican Congressional Committee issued a press release touting the shift, pointing to specific allegations not mentioned in the latest ad. That includes Cuellar’s votes this Congress “to grant amnesty to give child tax credits to millions of illegal immigrants, despite saying he’s frustrated with Democrats’ immigration policies that lead to mass illegal immigration.”
“South Texas voters and organizations are waking up and recognizing that Henry Cuellar is all talk and no action when it comes to securing the U.S.-Mexico border. He can’t be trusted to keep Texas safe and the border secure,” NRCC Spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair said in January.
The group cited in its press release a November 2021 report from ABC 7 noting that the Congressional Budget Office said President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act would be granted temporary amnesty and “subsequently receive lawful permanent resident status.” It also cited a Fox News report claiming the Build Back Better Act “drops (a) key child tax credit requirement that could pay out billions to illegal immigrants.”
A GOP victory in the Laredo and San Antonio-based district would be a feat. The district includes nearly 313,000 Democrats, but just over 76,000 Republicans, according to the most recent L2 voter file data.
Garcia’s challenge is part of a broader GOP effort to flip southern Texas red.
The task — like Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s underdog campaign to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — is an uphill climb. But it is another way Republicans are putting plenty at stake on the Texas border, given that they are already refocusing the final sprint of the 2022 Midterms on portraying the 1,200-mile boundary as rife with escalating danger and disorder as record numbers of migrants enter from Mexico.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.