Democratic Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez announces bid for U.S. Senate in 2024
Gutierrez, who's championed for tougher gun laws after the Uvalde school shooting, becomes the second Texas Democrat to announce runs against GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.
Texas Democrat and state Senator Roland Gutierrez announced Monday, July 10 he is running for U.S. Senate in 2024, becoming the second Texas Democrat to announce a run against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz, who is seeking a third term.
It’s a longshot as no Democrat has won statewide office in the Lone Star state in nearly three decades. Former congressman Beto O’Rourke almost defeated Cruz in 2018 but was defeated handedly against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
Former NFL player and current U.S. representative from Texas's 32nd congressional district, Rep. Colin Allred became the first to enter the race in May, who says his campaign has since raised $6 million.
"My platform is gonna be based on solving the real problems, not creating the boogeyman, not blaming whoever that marginalized person is," Gutierrez told Axios in an interview.
He said he possesses more experience as a public servant over his Allred, whom political analysts already consider an early leader in the primary. Guiterrez also said he’s driven by issues such as high healthcare costs, dire public education funding as well as the economic issues facing everyday Americans.
Gutierrez, whose district includes San Antonio and the town of Uvalde, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school last year, has fought for police accountability and tougher gun laws in the time since the tragedy.
"For me, Uvalde was certainly a moment in my life that changed me forever," Gutierrez tells Axios, adding that it's one of the reasons he's looking to unseat Cruz.
He made impassioned pleas for firings over police as well regarding waiting more than an hour to confront the gunman.
As a state senator, he’s introduced bills that add different restrictions to gun purchases, including raising the age to buy AR-15-style rifles and expanding background checks, none of which have passed the Republican-led State Legislature.
“I’m a proud gun owner and believer in the Second Amendment, but after 19 children and two teachers died, the Republicans wouldn’t even allow us an opportunity to talk about ways to protect our kids,” Gutierrez said in his video announcement. “It’s why we have to do something now.”
In his campaign video, he criticized Cruz and other GOP lawmakers for having “abandoned” rural Texas communities.
“What happened in Uvalde wasn’t just about guns. It was about neglect — the neglect of rural Texas, the neglect of the systems in this state that are supposed to keep us safe,” Gutierrez said in the video.
“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,” added Gutierrez, who also criticized Cruz for his decision to vacation in Cancun during an intense winter storm that triggered statewide blackouts and killed 800 people in 2021.
Gutierrez, the son of Mexican immigrants, is an immigration attorney who served on the San Antonio City Council for three years before he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2008. He’d serve until 2021.
During his time in Austin, Gutierrez chaired the House Committee on Defense and Veterans' Affairs on appointment from Republican House Speaker Joe Straus, also of San Antonio.
In 2020, he ran to represent District 19 Texas Senate against incumbent Republican Pete Flores and defeated him later that November. As part of the Texas Senate, Gutierrez serves on the Local Government, Veteran Affairs, and the Water, Agriculture & Rural Affairs committees.