City OF Austin, Texas Roland Gutierrez, a Texas state senator who has advocated for police accountability and stricter gun laws since the Uvalde school massacre, announced on Monday that he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2024.
He is the second Democrat in Texas to launch a longshot quest to deny Republican Sen. Ted Cruz a third term, representing the reddest state in the country.
Rep. Colin Allred was the first candidate to enter the race in May. He claims that his campaign has raised more than $6 million since then.
It creates a competitive Democratic primary for a major campaign in Texas, a state where decades of Republican dominance have discouraged many prominent Democrats from running for statewide office.
Before a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School, Gutierrez was little known beyond his South Texas district, which includes Uvalde. He spent the following year making impassioned appeals for stricter gun laws and dismissing police officers who waited more than an hour to confront the shooter.
In Texas, no Democrat has earned a statewide office in nearly three decades. Former congressman Beto O’Rourke nearly defeated Cruz in 2018—a strong year for Democrats nationally—but lost by double-digit margins to incumbent Republican governor Greg Abbott in 2017.
Gutierrez and Allred will presumably draw attention to Cruz’s vote to reject the certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory over former President Donald Trump. A few weeks later, Allred also accused Cruz of forsaking Texas by going on vacation with his family during a deadly winter storm.