Roland Gutierrez, a Democratic state senator who has been an outspoken advocate of gun control since last year’s massacre in Uvalde, Texas, announced Monday that he will seek Sen. Ted Cruz’s seat next year.
Gutierrez, whose district stretches from San Antonio to the Rio Grande and includes Uvalde, is the second major Democratic politician to enter the race, most likely ensuring a high-profile primary contest among Texas Democrats. Rep. Colin Allred, a second-term Congressman from the Dallas area, declared his candidacy in May.
Both candidates entered the race vowing to focus their attacks on Mr. Cruz rather than any Democratic rival.
Gutierrez has gained some national prominence as one of the loudest and hardline voices in the Texas Capitol pressing for gun control following the massacre that killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary in Uvalde last May. He is a familiar face on cable news, commenting not only on the Uvalde murders and the delayed police response, but other mass shootings as well.
« I’m a proud gun owner and Second Amendment advocate, but after the deaths of 19 children and two teachers, Republicans haven’t even given us the opportunity to talk about how to protect our children, » Mr. Gutierrez says in a video posted on Monday to announce your candidacy. « That’s why we have to do something now. »
The issue of gun violence and the reluctance of Texas Republicans at the state and federal levels to regulate guns should be the focus of Gutierrez’s campaign. The aides said Mr. Gutierrez would not be afraid to show his passion on the issue, as he has done at press conferences and on television.
« There’s a special place in hell for people who have this kind of problem that looks them right in the face and they haven’t done anything about it, » Mr. Gutierrez said in Mayafter a gunman killed eight people and injured seven others at a mall in north Dallas.
Unlike Mr. Allred, who began his campaign in part by portraying himself as a bipartisan politician, Mr. Gutierrez is betting that a much more combative and potentially polarizing approach will provide a path to unseating Mr. Cruz and winning office across the board. the state in Texas. Democrats haven’t done that in decades.
As a state senator, Mr. Gutierrez has pressed a series of measures to add restrictions on gun purchases, including raising the age for the purchase of AR-15-style rifles and expanding controls on precedent, which polls have shown are very popular in Texas. None of the bills passed the Republican-dominated legislature.
Beto O’Rourke, the former Congressman from El Paso, supported the same set of gun control policies during his unsuccessful campaign for governor last year. Gutierrez is betting the message would resonate differently coming from someone with a personal bio of him, a gun-owning Hispanic representative from a mostly rural district of South Texas. Mr. O’Rourke also took on Mr. Cruz, in 2018, and narrowly lost.
Mr. Gutierrez’s aides said the Uvalde massacre would serve as a prime example of how low-income, working Texans were being mistreated by those in power like Mr. Cruz.
Mr. Gutierrez starts with a fundraising disadvantage. Mr. Allred’s campaign said it raised $6.2 million in the two months after his campaign was announced. Mr. Gutierrez, by contrast, was barred from fundraising by Texas law until mid-June, after the end of the state legislative session.
But Gutierrez aides said they didn’t anticipate fundraising would be a problem, especially in a general election, because Democrats have traditionally been willing and willing to spend money trying to defeat Cruz.