Allred sees new challenger in bid to take on Ted Cruz: State Sen. Roland Gutierrez

Allred’s head start gives him an early fundraising advantage, but the picture could change leading up the primaries in March 2024.

By Sean SaldanaJuly 11, 2023 2:31 pm,

Back in May, U.S. Congressman Colin Allred, who’s based in Dallas, announced his candidacy to challenge Senator Ted Cruz for his Senate seat, creating a stir among Republicans. 

Now another Democratic challenger has entered the race: Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents San Antonio and Uvalde. He announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate yesterday, making him the second high-profile Democrat to enter the race. 

Allred’s head start has helped the Dallas-area Democrat raise more than $6 million for his campaign, all this happening as the clock to the Democratic primary ticks down to March 2024. 

Jim Arnold is a lobbyist and founder of Arnold Public Affairs, a public policy and political advocacy firm. He joined Texas Standard to talk about what to expect out of the Democratic primary race for Senate. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.

Texas Standard: Looking at this race so far, we’re talking about two fairly well-known names. Would you agree Colin Allred perhaps has the name recognition advantage at this point? Gutierrez has been in the news quite a bit of late. 

Jim Arnold: I’m not sure which one has the advantage, at least in terms of name ID. Certainly that $6.2 million that Colin Allred has said that he’s raised is pretty intimidating. That’s a significant amount of money for such an early point in the campaign.

But certainly Sen. Gutierrez has raised his profile in the last legislative session with his efforts to to pass some common sense gun control measures. But anyway, I’m not sure that any of them right now has a major advantage. 

So in the Lone Star State, in the run up to primaries, we often see some rather pointed and sharp political language. You’re trying to get out the base for those primaries. What are we likely to hear on the Democratic side, as you see it? 

I think there are a number of issues that certainly Democrats can use against the Republicans. I think, you know, this increase in mass shootings, people want something done. I think most polls show that most people agree that there needs to be something else done to curb gun violence.

I think also issues like immigration and, you know, some of the attacks recently by the Republicans on large marginalized populations. So I think, you know, a primary is a completely different animal than a general election. And so you’re going to see both of these candidates talk about things that impact their constituency or their base.

Well, you think about the last time Ted Cruz faced a high profile-challenger: 2018, Beto O’Rourke. If O’Rourke couldn’t beat him – I think this is a question a lot of Texans are asking – what are the chances either Gutierrez or Allred can? 

Well, that’s why you have elections. You know, we don’t know yet what the picture will look like in November of 2024. We don’t know necessarily who’s going to be on the presidential ticket, at least perhaps with the Republicans. And we don’t know what other Democrats will be running here in Texas. And so we certainly don’t know what the issues will be.

That picture could change quite a bit as we head up to March of 2024, and yet that date is fast approaching. March 5, I believe, is the election day next year.

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