Feb 29, 2024 - News

The race to face Ted Cruz

Two men sit at a conference table. One holds up a piece of paper.

U.S. Rep. Colin Allred (left) and state Sen. Roland Gutierrez are facing off in the Texas Democratic Senate primary. Photo: Sharon Steinmann/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

Early voting is already underway in the March 5 elections, and while the presidential primaries might be all but sealed, voters will still weigh in on everything from party nominees for Dallas County commissioner to who'll face U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in November.

The big picture: U.S. Rep. Colin Allred from Dallas and state Sen. Roland Gutierrez from San Antonio are facing off in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate — with the winner set to take on Cruz.

  • Allred, a civil rights lawyer and former NFL player who was first elected to Congress in 2018, raised $6.2 million in the first two months of his campaign, according to the Texas Tribune. He raised over $4.8 million from October through December last year.
  • Gutierrez has raised about $433,000.

Flashback: Gutierrez gained attention last year for his push for gun restrictions following the mass shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two teachers dead — though his bills never got a hearing in the GOP-controlled Capitol.

Why it matters: Cruz, who's seeking a third term, is seen as one of a few vulnerable Senate Republicans in this year's elections.

  • Cruz continues to be a polarizing figure, facing criticism over his response to last year's mass shooting in Allen and his visit to Cancún in 2021 during the deadly Texas winter storm.

Yes, but: Texas hasn't sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1988. And it's been 30 years since any Democrat won a statewide election.

  • Cruz beat El Paso Democrat Beto O'Rourke in 2018 by less than 3 percentage points.

What they're saying: "For me, Uvalde was certainly a moment in my life that changed me forever," Gutierrez told Axios last year, adding that it's one of the reasons he's looking to unseat Cruz.

  • "My platform is going to be based on solving the real problems, not creating the boogeyman, not blaming whoever that marginalized person is," Gutierrez said.

The other side: "I've built broad coalitions in my campaigns," Allred told Gutierrez during a debate last month. "That's how you win tough races."

What we're watching: If Allred and Gutierrez both fall short of 50% of the vote, their race will go to a runoff on May 28.

Meanwhile: Brian Williams, a trauma surgeon who rose to prominence after treating Dallas police officers ambushed by a sniper in 2016, and state Rep. Julie Johnson from Farmers Branch, lead a field of 10 Democratic candidates vying for Allred's seat in Congress.

If you haven't voted: You can check to ensure your registration is up to date by visiting the Texas Secretary of State's website.

  • Early voting ends Friday.

Go deeper: Check out D Magazine's rundown of all the important local primaries.

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