State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, announced Monday he is joining the Democratic primary to challenge U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
Gutierrez made his campaign official in a nearly four-minute video that starts with him driving to Uvalde, the city in his district where a deadly school shooting took place last year. He says the massacre was about more than guns but also about how Texas leaders have neglected the state, including rural Texas and “systems … that are supposed to keep us safe.”
“That failure hasn’t been isolated,” Gutierrez said. “I’m running against Ted Cruz because everything that we’ve seen in this state has been nothing but taking care of rich people while the poor people, the working class, get screwed over.”
The video also singles out Cruz for his 2021 trip to Cancun during the power-grid collapse in Texas, calling it “just indefensible.” And it also takes shots, briefly, at other state GOP leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Gutierrez’s entrance into the 2024 race has long been expected, and it sets up a primary matchup with U.S. Rep. Colin Allred of Dallas, who announced his campaign in May.
“Our campaign is laser focused on beating Ted Cruz, and we are happy to welcome anyone who shares that mission into this race,” Allred campaign manager Paige Hutchinson said.
Gutierrez began in the Texas House before winning election to the state Senate in 2020. He does not have to give up his Texas Senate seat to run against Cruz because it is not on the ballot again until 2026.
Gutierrez faces a serious opponent in Allred, who has already picked up a number of national endorsements and has raised more than $6 million. He also transferred $2.4 million from his House campaign account.
In an interview with WFAA, Gutierrez did not shy away from a contrast with Allred. Gutierrez said he is sure Allred is a “nice man” but added that the “fact is, I’ve done a heck of a lot more than he has in public service.”
Allred’s campaign has brushed off talk of primary opponents, saying he is focused on defeating Cruz, who is seeking a third six-year term.
Another Democrat in the Legislature, Rep. Carl Sherman of DeSoto, also is considering running for Senate.
There was a DMN story from last week that reiterated Sen. Gutierrez’s intent to run; a WaPo story from May had the same message. Gutierrez has not been deterred by Rep. Allred’s fast fundraising start or the potentially long summer of special sessions, which prevents him from raising cash. I’m not sure how he plans to make headway, but that’s for him to determine. He does have a longer record of service and he was very much the go-to person in the Lege this spring for all things related to Uvalde. I expect him to have very dedicated supporters, and that means something.
As I’ve said before, I’m fine with there being a high-profile contested primary. It gets everyone focused from the beginning, and while the potential is certainly there for some nastiness, the good news is that everyone ought to remember that in the end they’re running against Ted Cruz. I hope that the real competition is about who can attack our very junior Senator the most sharply.
This has been a contested primary since Allred’s entry, since former Midland Council member John Love was there first. Love seems like a decent guy and I hope he considers running for Railroad Commissioner or maybe Land Commissioner in 2026. Heli Rodriguez-Prilliman is in there as well, and as of a few days ago so is someone named Steve Keough. For obvious reasons, this is an Allred-Gutierrez showdown, and the rest is details. As for State Rep. Carl Sherman, whose name has only recently entered the conversation, I cannot for the life of me see why he would enter this race. Like Allred, and unlike Gutierrez, he would have to give up his (very safe) seat to run, and there’s just no universe in which he can outperform his Dallas-area neighbor Allred. Stranger decisions have been made so we’ll have to wait and see, but my money is on Rep. Sherman remaining in the Lege. The Chron, Reform Houston, and Texas Monthly have more.