US Rep. Colin Allred takes on GOP's Ted Cruz after ABC News projects him to win Democratic primary

Wednesday, March 6, 2024
Tap for ABC13 Houston 24/7 Live Stream
Watch Eyewitness News and ABC13 originals around the clock

AUSTIN, Texas -- Democrats in search of flipping a U.S. Senate seat were watching Texas closely on Super Tuesday to see who voters nominate against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, whose underdog challengers have cast as vulnerable after a narrow margin of victory in 2018.

U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, a former NFL player and three-term congressman from Dallas, and state Sen. Roland Gutierrez drew most of the attention in a primary that again finds Texas Democrats in pursuit of a breakthrough candidate. No Democrat has won a statewide office in Texas in 30 years, the longest losing streak of its kind in the U.S.

On Tuesday evening, ABC News projected that Allred would win the Democratic primary.

Before the projected win, Democrats believed Texas and Florida were their best shot for upsets in November as they try to preserve a slim 51-49 advantage in the Senate. That majority includes West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who is not seeking reelection and whose seat is likely to flip Republican.

Seven other Democrats also ran in the Texas Senate primary, including state Rep. Carl Sherman.

RELATED: Your Voice, Your Vote: Here's what you need to know about voting for the Texas primary election

As early voting begins on Tuesday, Feb. 20, here's what voters need to know for this Texas primary election.

Allred, who would become Texas' first Black senator if elected, has raised more than $21 million since getting in the race.

Allred, 40, made headlines in January when he was among 14 House Democrats who backed a Republican resolution in Congress that criticized President Joe Biden's handling of the border. State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, who was one of Allred's challengers, criticized Allred for the vote, accusing him of siding "with GOP extremists," and Cruz spokesperson Macarena Martinez called the vote a "disingenuous attempt to posture on the border."

Allred said he did not agree with all the language in the resolution but said he wanted to see more urgency at the federal level when it comes to the border.

"For me, it was about sending a signal that, you know, what we have been doing is not working," Allred said in an interview last week during early voting in Texas. "We have to change something."

Cruz only narrowly beat Beto O'Rourke for reelection in 2018 by less than three percentage points. It was the closest Democrats have come in decades to win a statewide seat, and it happened during a midterm election that wound up being a strong year for Democrats nationally.

READ MORE: Beto O'Rourke's journey versus Ted Cruz in the race for Texas Senate

Texas Democrats have struggled to recapture that momentum since then. O'Rourke lost by double digits when he challenged Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in 2022.

"Things are shifting in the state. It takes a long time," said Jared Hockeman, the chairman of the Democratic Party in Cameron County along the U.S.-Mexico border. "We recognize that."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

RELATED: Voting rights activist hopeful for turnout and engagement in March 5 primary election

As early voting for the March 5 primary is underway, ABC13 spoke to a voting rights activist who shared why it's crucial to head to the polls.