If Democratic Rep. Colin Allred has anything to say about it, fellow Texan Sen. Ted Cruz's (R) days in U.S. Congress are numbered. On May 3, the former officially launched his campaign to unseat the well-known senator, who has so far managed to survive every political challenge levied against him. "We don't have to be embarrassed by our senator. We can get a new one," Allred, also a former NFL linebacker, remarked in a video announcing his candidacy. When "Texans were freezing in the dark," he said, Cruz "jetted off to Cancun. He'll do anything to get on Fox News, but can't be bothered trying to help keep rural Texas hospitals open." He "spends months trying to whip up phony culture wars, but not a minute trying to raise wages or lower drug prices. The struggles of regular Texas just don't interest him."
"Well, they matter to me," Allred continued, "because those struggles are the story of my life."
Allred grew up in North Dallas, Texas, where he was raised by his mother, a public school teacher. He never knew his father, and consequently "made a promise to myself" to "do it right" when he became a dad. After graduating from Baylor University on a full-ride football scholarship, Allred deferred his acceptance to law school to join the NFL, where he played for five seasons before sustaining a career-ending injury. Later focused on his career as a civil rights attorney, he served in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under former President Barack Obama before eventually returning to private practice. He first decided to run for office in 2018, when he successfully ousted longtime Dallas-area Rep. Pete Sessions (R) in a hard-fought battle. As noted by Texas Monthly, his victory was certainly aided in large part by Democratic momentum created by then-Senate hopeful Beto O'Rourke, who came extremely close but ultimately failed to usurp Cruz. "You believed in us when all the pundits didn't, when the experts said it wasn't possible," Allred told his supporters after his victory. "And that belief has paid off tonight." His Dallas-area district has since been redrawn to "become more favorable for Democrats," meaning the party should be able to easily retain the seat come 2024, writes The New York Times.
According to his biography on the House of Representatives website, Allred has focused his time in Congress on lowering health care costs, "protecting Medicare and Social Security, and creating an economy that works for everyone," as well as expanding access to education, improving the nation's infrastructure, and implementing immigration reform. And though he's perhaps the most high-profile Democratic candidate so far, Allred likely won't be alone in his quest for the nomination. State Sen. Ronald Gutierrez, who represents the town of Uvalde, has expressed interest in running for the seat, while Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner could jump in, as well, per CNN.
It's no secret that Cruz remains deeply unpopular among Texas Democrats. But it's also no secret that the state is deeply red, and that, per the Times, "no Democrat has won statewide office in Texas since the 1990s." So does Allred even stand a chance against the incumbent? If you ask the senator's team, the answer is a resounding no. "Allred wants men to compete in women's sports, isn't serious about addressing the crisis at the border, wants to take away law-abiding Texans' guns, and is soft on punishing murderers," a Cruz spokesperson said in a statement. "Thankfully, the Lone Star State has a tireless champion in Sen. Ted Cruz."
But Allred is also "a prolific fundraiser," CNN writes, and ended 2022 with roughly $2 million cash in hand to rival Cruz's at least $3.3 million war chest. Further, he's a "well-liked figure in the Democratic caucus," having been picked to help lead his freshman class in 2019, per The Texas Tribune, and has a proven history of ousting Republican leaders, Sessions included, Newsweek adds. "Few senators are as despised as he," non-partisan political consultant Jay Townsend told the outlet, in reference to Cruz. "There are millions of Americans who will gladly give money to any Democrat running against him, as they did in the 2018 race." And Allred, on the other hand, "has a compelling story (Texans love football stars), a decent record, proven fundraising skills and it will be hard to paint him a radical socialist liberal," Towsend continued. "If Republicans nominate Trump, even red-state Texas will be a toss-up." But Dan Solomon of Texas Monthly was slightly less optimistic in his prognostication of the representative's chances: "The safest bet is to consider him a replacement-level candidate," Solomon said. "He's a young mainstream Democrat with an interesting story and enough relevant experience in Washington to be taken seriously, but he's yet to be in a position where he has to prove himself extraordinary."