Roland Gutierrez joins race against Ted Cruz

by | Jul 10, 2023 | 2024 Elections

After spending more than a year fighting for common sense gun reforms after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas Senator Roland Gutierrez is taking his fight on the road with a familiar foe in his sights: Ted Cruz.

After months of speculation, Gutierrez made it official this morning and jumped into the Democratic primary to face Cruz for his coveted U.S. Senate seat next fall in what could be a crucial contest in the battle for the majority in the U.S. Senate.

Gutierrez, a veteran of the Texas Legislature based out of San Antonio, has drawn national praise for his efforts to reform Texas gun laws in the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde, which he represents in the Texas Senate, and was even able to force a vote on one of his bills this session, no small feat in a legislature where Democrats are heavily outnumbered.

Throughout that fight, Gutierrez has shown flashes of political brilliance that have given some Texas Democrats hope that he could blaze a new trail through South Texas, engaging voters who are consistently overlooked in Democratic primaries and taken for granted in general elections. A passionate and talented communicator, Gutierrez had often been one of the few bright spots for Texas Democrats through a difficult legislative session.

Gutierrez, who launched his campaign with a powerful and impressive launch video, is no stranger to tough electoral challenges. In 2020, Gutierrez reclaimed the 19th Senate District for Texas Democrats after they lost it in a 2018 special election. Gutierrez faced a tough primary, initially coming in second before securing the nomination with a runoff victory.

He defeated Pete Flores, the incumbent Republican, in a hard-fought general election that saw Gutierrez overcome the benefits of incumbency that Flores enjoyed. 

That Texas Senate origin story proves that Gutierrez is a formidable opponent unafraid of a scrap, and if he hopes to face Cruz next fall Gutierrez is in for a tough fight for the Democratic nomination.

The first step for Gutierrez will be a Democratic primary featuring North Texas Congressman Colin Allred, who leveraged a stellar launch ad of his own to rack up millions of dollars in contributions and is already building out a top-shelf campaign against Cruz. 

Allred’s team reported raising more than $8 million in their first quarter in the race – $6 million in contributions along with more than $2 million transferred from his congressional account. 

The Allred campaign has been laser-focused on prosecuting their case against Cruz, and now find themselves in a position where they may have to compete with another Democrat and spend valuable resources in a Democratic primary.

That’s actually not a bad thing, as both Gutierrez and Allred face similar challenges. Despite serving in their respective roles for years, neither candidate is well-established outside of their home area. A competitive primary could allow the eventual nominee to invest valuable resources in building their name ID in advance of the fall general election, which could be a net positive for either candidate.

The biggest question facing Gutierrez right now is whether he can get close to parity with Allred’s fundraising. Sources Signal has spoken to in recent days feel there is a viable path for Gutierrez to raise substantial sums of money from a national network of gun violence prevention advocates, and Gutierrez has built durable relationships with a wide range of donors throughout his years in the legislature.

Even if Gutierrez isn’t able to match Allred’s output, he will almost certainly have the resources to run a strong campaign in South Texas and the Valley, where the media markets are less expensive and populated with large numbers of Latino voters. If Gutierrez is able to carve out an aggressive foothold in the massive expanse of the state that falls south of San Antonio, this will be a competitive primary. 

As for general election matchups, Ted Cruz has reason to be equally intimidated by his new foes. Allred has an incredible story and has been raising gobsmacking sums of money and Gutierrez is chomping at the bit to take Cruz to task for a wide range of failures that have embarrassed Texas.

No matter what happens from here, the race of U.S. Senate in Texas is shaping up to be one of the biggest down-ballot battles of the 2024 cycle.

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