Texas Democrats acknowledge that a steep climb awaits whoever challenges Cruz in 2024. But though they have limited options, they believe at least one potential candidate could make the race competitive.
“The real challenge is not to make [Cruz] unacceptable, which he is,” one Democratic strategist based in Texas told Inside Elections. “The real challenge is for our candidate to be acceptable.”
Rep. Colin Allred, who represents the suburbs of Dallas, and Julián Castro, the former San Antonio mayor and HUD secretary, are seen as the two strongest potential contenders.
Aside from O’Rourke, Castro is probably the best known Democratic figure in the state. The 48-year-old former mayor and his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, have been involved in Texas Democratic politics since the early 2000s, when Julián Castro served on the San Antonio city council and Joaquin Castro served in the Texas state House.
As mayor of one of Texas’ largest cities, he was seen as a rising progressive star and delivered a keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention that elevated his national profile. Two years later, President Barack Obama nominated Castro to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and he became the youngest member of the president’s Cabinet.
But his 2020 presidential campaign failed to pick up steam, and Castro, the only Latino candidate in the Democratic primary, dropped out of the race at the beginning of 2020 and endorsed Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Democrats who spoke with Inside Elections were skeptical that Castro would make the jump — and some expressed concerns that the former presidential contender would be too progressive to win statewide.
Allred, however, appears to be seriously considering a campaign, though he’s yet to comment publicly on his intentions.
Democrats agree that if Allred decided to run, he’d clear the primary field. At the end of 2022, the congressman reported having nearly $2 million in cash on hand.
“I do think that he has the best shot, and quite frankly, I haven’t really heard of anyone else that would be credible that’s thinking about running,” Democratic Rep. Marc Veasey, who represents a neighboring district in the Metroplex, told Inside Elections.
But if neither Allred nor Castro decide to run, the Democratic primary field is wide open.
Democrats point to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents a sprawling district that stretches from San Antonio into West Texas, as a potential option.
Gutierrez’s profile has risen since the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde reignited the debate over gun laws. Throughout this year’s legislative session, the 52-year-old state senator has introduced several sets of bills to tighten the state’s gun laws and better prepare law enforcement to respond to shootings.
Other names mentioned include outgoing Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, 33-year-old state Rep. James Talarico, and even Scott Kelly, the retired astronaut and brother of Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly. Two years ago, Kelly, a Houston resident originally from New Jersey, responded to a tweet asking him to run against Cruz, saying “Hmm…maybe.”
See here for the very recent previous post on this topic. Scott Kelly is a new name to be added to the Speculation List, though a non-response to a two-year-old tweet seems like an awfully thin reed on which to build such speculation. But if it weren’t for such flights of fancy, where would we be as the political commentariat?
At this point, it’s clear that talking up Colin Allred is the thing to be doing, and I’m fine with that. He would be a great candidate. He would also be giving up a lot to make an underdog run for the Senate. I have no idea what he’ll do. I’m just happy to make note of it when the subject comes up. Link via Daily Kos.