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Patriotic Millionaires backs primary challenges against centrist House Democrats Cuellar, Bourdeaux

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) gives an interview in Laredo, Texas, October 9, 2019.
Veronica Cardenas | Reuters

A group of millionaires that advocates for progressive tax policies is backing primary challenges to two centrist House Democrats the organization believes are obstructing President Joe Biden’s agenda.

The Patriotic Millionaires, a group whose members have annual incomes of over $1 million or assets of over $5 million, is endorsing progressive Jessica Cisneros over Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas. It is also endorsing Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., over Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Ga., in a face-off that resulted from redistricting.

Cuellar, whose home and office in Texas were raided by the FBI recently, has declared he intends to run for reelection. Cuellar has denied wrongdoing. ABC News reported that the congressman is caught up in a federal probe, saying that subpoenas were issued for records linked to Cuellar and his wife.

Cisneros challenged Cuellar in 2020, and Cuellar won the primary by around 3 percentage points.

McBath represents Georgia’s 6th District, while Bourdeaux represents the 7th District. Due to recent redistricting, McBath and Bourdeaux will have to contend to represent the 7th District.

The Patriotic Millionaires argues that Cisneros and Bourdeaux have gotten in the way of Biden’s agenda, which has stalled out after Congress approved his bipartisan infrastructure bill in November. The group cites, on its website, Cuellar’s concerns about how a Democratic spending bill would affect the oil and gas industry. The group is also critical of Bourdeaux over tax issues.

Data from FiveThirtyEight shows that the two lawmakers vote in line with the president over 90% of the time.

Democrats hold a narrow majority in the House, and polling has indicated that Republicans have a strong chance to retake the chamber in this fall’s midterm elections.

For years, the Patriotic Millionaires has advocated for raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Its advisory board consists of former BlackRock executive Morris Pearl, who serves as the group’s chair; Abigail and Tim Disney, grandchildren of Disney co-founder Roy O. Disney; and George Zimmer, former CEO of The Men’s Wearhouse.

This marks the first time the group is getting involved in a primary campaign.

In interviews with CNBC, Pearl and the group’s president, Erica Payne, said their endorsements mean, in part, that members will be contributing to the campaigns of candidates they’re backing in primaries. They also hinted there could be more endorsements in other primary contests in the coming months.

Abigail Disney has previously donated to McBath’s reelection campaign, according to records from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

“The people of Georgia’s 7th District deserve a representative who will fight every day in Washington for their best interest, and I know Representative McBath is more than up for that challenge,” Abigail Disney said in a statement provided to CNBC. “I am proud to offer my wholehearted support and that of the Patriotic Millionaires to her and her campaign.”

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