Democrat Roland Gutierrez joins US Senate race in Texas after pressing for action over Uvalde

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — 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 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.

In May, Rep. Colin Allred became the first 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.

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.

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.

Both Gutierrez and Allred are likely to draw attention to Cruz voting to reject the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump in 2020. Allred has also accused Cruz of abandoning Texas by going on vacation with his family during a deadly winter storm a few weeks later.

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Cover Photo: Democratic Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez speaks during a news conference at a town square in Uvalde, Texas, Thursday, June 2, 2022. Gutierrez, who has pushed for police accountability and tougher gun laws after the Uvalde school shooting, announced Monday, July 10, 2023, he will run for U.S. Senate in 2024. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

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