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May 4th, 2023:

Allred confirms he is in for Senate

Let’s go.

Rep. Colin Allred

U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, announced Wednesday he is challenging U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for reelection.

The third-term congressman made the announcement in a three-minute video posted on social media. The video touted Allred’s life story and congressional record — and took multiple shots at Cruz, including over his role leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection and the trip to Cancun during the 2021 winter freeze.

“We deserve a senator whose team is Texas,” said Allred, a former NFL player. “Ted Cruz only cares about himself — you know that.”

Allred had been considering a campaign for months, and the launch was no surprise after it leaked out earlier this week that his announcement was imminent.

Allred’s campaign begins as an uphill battle. A Democrat hasn’t won a statewide election in Texas since 1994, and while Cruz’s 2018 reelection race against Beto O’Rourke was surprisingly tight, Democrats have not been able to replicate such a close contest since then.

“Some people say a Democrat can’t win in Texas,” Allred said in the video, which partly focused on his upbringing from the son of a single mother to NFL player. “Well, someone like me was never supposed to get this far.”


Allred is likely to face primary competition. State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, is likely to run but not expected to make any announcement until after the current legislative session, which ends May 29.

Allred has to give up his U.S. House seat to run against Cruz. It was made safe for Democrats during the 2021 redistricting process, and there will be no shortage of candidates for it in the Democrat-dominated Dallas area.

Allred’s launch video drew clear battle lines against Cruz, starting with the Jan. 6 insurrection when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in protest of his reelection loss. Allred said Cruz “cheered on the mob and then hid in a supply closet when they stormed the Capitol.”

“That’s Ted for you — all hat, no cattle,” Allred said.

The video also promoted Allred’s bipartisan credentials. He said he has “worked with Republicans” on issues related to veterans, trade and semiconductor manufacturing. The video included multiple shots of Allred appearing with a GOP colleague from North Texas, Rep. Jake Ellzey. They have teamed up a bill to authorize Veterans Affairs construction projects, including in Texas.

See here for the previous update about Allred, and here for the earlier news about Sen. Gutierrez. Maybe there will be a contested primary, and maybe Sen. Gutierrez will decide that he doesn’t need to run after all. We’ll find out soon enough. I’m delighted to have Rep. Allred in the race – I will also be delighted with Sen. Gutierrez if that’s how this ends up – and I look forward to him giving a strong fight to Ted Cruz. He’s an underdog to be sure, and I hope someday to understand what his thought process was, but he can win. Go get ’em. Daily Kos has more.

(I expect we will see an article about who will run for the now-open CD32 in very short order. In all the prior reporting about Allred’s likely Senate run, that subject never came up, so offhand I don’t have any names for this. But I’m sure more than one person has been giving this matter a lot of thought. We’ll know who those folks are pretty quickly, I expect.)

One more thing about abortion and polling

Just wanted to add one thing to my earlier post about abortion as a political/campaign issue in Texas in 2023-24. In addition to the question of support for or opposition to abortion, most polls also ask questions about what issues voters prioritize. Sometimes they give the respondents a list, sometimes they let the respondents volunteer their answers. You can see examples in the Texas Politics Project polls and in various national polls, among others. The idea here is to try to get a handle on the issues that are actually motivating people to vote, as well as understand which way they would go.

Generally speaking, abortion is not a top-cited issue in most polls. Even in 2022, even among Democrats and the voters Democrats were trying to reach, it wasn’t the top issue. Inflation, crime, the state of democracy, climate change, and abortion were among the top issues for Dems last year, while for Republicans it was inflation, crime, and immigration. There is of course a subset of voters for whom abortion as been The One Issue, but that’s a small group and they are the hardest of the hardcore forced-birth contingent.

Abortion is absolutely becoming a more salient issue for Democrats, where it fits into a panoply of related issues that we see as being genuinely threatened by radical far-right legislators and their enablers on the courts. Voting rights, democracy in general, LGBTQ+ rights, gun control, fights against book bans and “critical race theory” and “don’t say gay” laws and drag show bans and on and on, they’re all of a piece. Dems are increasingly (though still not entirely) unified on these issues, and they both poll better overall and tend to have appeal to a class of voter that used to be on the other team. There are still disagreements – there will always be disagreements – but the Bart Stupak contingent is now vanishingly small. I’d say a fair number of more recent converts, the post-2016 crowd in particular, which includes some of our more energetic activists, came on board in part over abortion rights and the fear of the Roe reversal that was to come.

What’s clear from the polling data we have is that support for abortion rights, even in a more-limited-than-we’d-like manner, significantly exceeds the vote share that pro-choice politicians get. Here in Texas, there are three issues on which public support is totally disconnected from legislative action: Expanded gambling, marijuana decriminalization, and abortion rights. The first two can largely be explained as “Dan Patrick opposes them”, but the third is entirely due to people who say they support abortion rights – again, even in the very limited “rape/incest/health of the mother” way – voting for Republican candidates that support making abortion 100% illegal.

How do we get these Republican voters who want to have at least some access to legal abortion in Texas to stop voting for forced-birth extremists? If I knew the answer to that, I’d be pelting Colin Allred and Roland Gutierrez with my resume to be their campaign manager. I can’t say with certainty that there’s a way to reach these people and change their minds, or at least their voting behavior, even in just one or two key races. But I believe there is, and I believe we can and must try to find it. I believe we did not try to take advantage of this change in the national mood last year – we did try to persuade people about the failures of the grid and our deadly gun laws, with which I have no quarrel other than they ultimately didn’t work – and we must try it next year. I believe we can learn from what activists did in states like Kansas and Michigan and Pennsylvania. I believe there is a risk both of going too far and pushing past the comfort levels of the “I support women who need abortions, but I’m icked out by the women who want them” voters, and also of angering and enervating the activists who want the politicians they support to be as bold and courageous as they are by trying to accommodate the former. I believe we have no choice but to try, whatever the risks are.

Like I said, I don’t know the answers. I’m just trying to frame the questions. I welcome your feedback.

No federal action to un-screw Houston on Harvey relief funds

Not yet, anyway. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this.

The federal government is punting for now on enforcing a finding that Texas discriminated against communities of color when it stiffed Houston in distributing flood mitigation funds stemming from Hurricane Harvey.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development found last March that the state’s scoring criteria for communities that applied for an initial pot of $1 billion ran afoul of federal civil rights protections.

It said the Texas General Land Office’s criteria “caused there to be disproportionately less funding available to benefit minority residents than was available to benefit white residents.” Some communities, including Houston, Harris County and Port Arthur received no funding in the initial distribution.

After Texas officials, who have denied that allegation, rebuffed federal housing officials’ requests to adjust the plan, HUD referred the matter on April 17 to the Department of Justice.

“On June 28, 2022, HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge requested in writing that Texas Governor Greg Abbott bring GLO into compliance by executing a mutually agreed upon voluntary compliance agreement,” HUD officials wrote in the referral. “Subsequently, the Governor indicated that he was not open to taking any action to resolve HUD’s findings of discrimination. HUD has exhausted all avenues but has not been unable to voluntarily resolve this matter.”

The DOJ, though, said two days later that it would not take any action until HUD’s related investigation into whether the state also violated the Fair Housing Act is complete. It also urged HUD to continue seeking voluntary compliance from the state.

“Based on our review, we are deferring consideration of referral and returning the above-mentioned matter to HUD for further investigation,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke wrote on April 19.


Two advocacy groups, the Northeast Action Collective and Texas Housers, filed a complaint with HUD, which said the plans ran afoul of the Civil Rights Act. That finding centered on two issues with the GLO criteria.

First, the state used a metric that effectively penalized large jurisdictions, such as Houston, by measuring what percentage of an applicant’s residents would benefit from a proposed project. The City of Iola applied for a project benefiting all 379 of its residents, and received 10 points for that criteria. Houston applied for a project benefiting 8,845 people in Kashmere Gardens, and it received .37 out of 10 points, because Houston has 2.3 million residents.

Second, HUD said the state divided the competition into two uneven categories: the most impacted and distressed areas, as defined by HUD, which included Houston and Harris County; and more rural counties that also got a presidential disaster declaration. Both categories fought for pots of essentially equal money, but the first category has about eight times as many residents, and includes 90 percent of the minority residents in the entire eligible population.

Ben Martin, research director at Texas Housers, said those findings stand, despite the DOJ’s letter. He said the Fair Housing investigation also results from the complaint Texas Housers and the Northeast Action Collective filed.

“We urge HUD and DOJ to move quickly to resolve the remaining investigation and if necessary to move to enforcement in order to cure the discrimination that the state of Texas has engaged in,” Masters said. “Also, both DOJ and HUD have urged the state to participate in voluntary negotiations to resolve the matter and to get desperately needed assistance to the communities who were discriminated against. We stand ready to act to resolve this issue.”

See here, here, and here for some background. As the story notes, Harris County was also initially screwed by the GLO, but eventually received $750 million, which is still not enough but which is now mostly going towards existing flood mitigation projects originating with the 2018 flood bond referendum. I’m not sufficiently versed in bureaucratese to grok this decision by the Justice Department, but if I had to guess they want HUD to finish up its other investigation so that if and when they move to enforce something on the GLO, that won’t be a dangling thread that a federal court could point to as a reason to hold them off. I dunno, it’s all kind of arcane. Given this, I’ll join the call for HUD to get on with it, and then we’ll see what the DOJ does.

Texas blog roundup for the week of May 1

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes you all a sturdy maypole and an inexhaustible supply of ribbons as it brings you this week’s roundup.