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A Republican candidate in a closely watched race for Congress running in the mold of former President Donald Trump is blaming an anti-Trump Facebook post from 2016 on a prank by his son.
The candidate, Ed Cabrera, is among seven Republicans running for the 28th Congressional District, currently held by Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and a target of the national GOP. Cabrera, a businessman and rancher from the Rio Grande Valley, is running as a Trump-like candidate, and his platform includes finishing the "Trump border wall" in some areas.
But a February 2016 post, which showed Cabrera posing outside the Mexican consulate in New York City, includes the caption, "Better to be a Mexican, than to be a citizen of a country that elects Trump as President. Don't pay for the wall, arriba Mejico!"
Cabrera's campaign says it is not what it seems.
"The social media post was a practical joke by Mr. Cabrera's son to mock Mr. Cabrera's strong support of President Trump," Cabrera's campaign said in a statement. "It was posted when Mr. Cabrera gave his son his phone to take a picture."
Before the anti-Trump comment, the post said Cabrera was posing at the consulate "for my son .... born in the USA, grew up in the USA and is a U.S. citizen- who is becoming a Mexican citizen today."
The post appears to have remained on Cabrera's Facebook page until around the time he launched his campaign late last year.
Republicans are determined to make new inroads in South Texas this year, but first they have to get through a series of crowded primaries, where support for Trump, who remains very popular with the GOP base, is a major sticking point. In the statement, Cabrera's campaign went on to say there is "no candidate more like President Trump in this race," hailing Cabrera as a successful businessman who is self-funding his campaign as Trump did in part.
While Cabrera has not had to file his first campaign finance report yet — it is due Jan. 31 — he has already started buying TV time. His opponents include Cassy Garcia, a former Ted Cruz staffer who is endorsed by the U.S. senator, and Sandra Whitten, the 2020 GOP nominee for the seat.
The National Republican Congressional Committee named the 28th District a target in February, and this fall, GOP state lawmakers redrew it to be more competitive for the party. Cuellar faces two primary opponents, including Jessica Cisneros, the challenger who came within 4 percentage points of him in 2020.
There is heightened attention on the race after Wednesday, when FBI agents visited Cuellar's home in Laredo. The agency did not say why officials were there other than for "court-authorized law enforcement activity." Cuellar promised to cooperate with any investigation.
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