Democrat Roland Gutierrez joins U.S. Senate race in Texas

Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Democratic Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who has pushed for police accountability and tougher gun laws after the Uvalde school shooting, announced Monday he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2024.

He becomes the second Texas Democrat to embark on what will be a longshot bid to deny Republican Sen. Ted Cruz a third term representing the nation’s biggest red state. Gutierrez launched his campaign in a three-minute video focusing on resources for rural Texas and telling his immigrant story while making his way through Uvalde, showing parents of children killed in the May 24 school massacre who have supported his legislative efforts for accountability following the shooting.

“Out of one of the darkest days, the people of Uvalde became more than constituents, they became family,” Gutierrez said in his announcement.

In May, Rep. Colin Allred became the first Democrat to enter the race. He says his campaign has since raised more than $6 million. It sets up a rare competitive Democratic primary for a major race in Texas, where decades of Republican dominance has often discouraged bigger-name Democrats from running statewide.

- FWBP Digital Partners -

Gutierrez was little known beyond his South Texas district, which includes Uvalde, before a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. He spent the next year making impassioned pleas for tougher gun laws and firings over police waiting more than an hour to confront the gunman.

“Texans will now get to watch Colin Allred and Roland Gutierrez slug it out for who can be the most radical leftist in the state,” said Nick Maddux, Cruz’s spokesman, in a statement Monday.

No Democrat has won statewide office in Texas in nearly 30 years. Former congressman Beto O’Rourke nearly beat Cruz in 2018 — in what was a strong year for Democrats nationally — but was soundly defeated by double-digits last year in a challenge against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

Gutierrez joined Allred in accusing Cruz of abandoning Texas by going on vacation with his family during a deadly winter storm in 2021, calling the move “indefensible.” Both are likely to call attention to Cruz voting to reject the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump in 2020.