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Colin Allred Wins Democratic Contest to Take On Senator Ted Cruz in Texas

Representative Colin Allred, a Dallas-area Democrat who defeated an incumbent Republican in 2018 to gain his congressional seat, won the Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, emerging on top of a crowded field seeking to challenge Senator Ted Cruz.

“I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be your nominee to be the next senator from the great state of Texas,” Mr. Allred, a civil rights lawyer and former N.F.L. linebacker, told his supporters Tuesday night.

State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who had been trailing by a wide margin in early returns, conceded the race mid-evening on Tuesday and thanked his supporters, many of whom were families of those killed in a mass shooting at a school in the small city of Uvalde in 2022.

Mr. Allred, 40, presented himself during the campaign as an across-the-aisle politician with a working-class upbringing who could appeal to a wide range of voters. But he faces steep odds in the general election: No Democrat has won a statewide office in Texas since the 1990s.

Democrats have believed for years that Mr. Cruz represented one of their best targets to finally break that streak. They nearly did so in 2018, when Mr. Cruz first ran for re-election and Beto O’Rourke, then a little-known representative from El Paso, came within about 2.5 percentage points of unseating him, an unusually narrow margin for a statewide race.

Mr. Allred gained his seat in the House that year, riding the same wave of Democratic enthusiasm that nearly ousted Mr. Cruz. Mr. Allred’s district has since been redrawn to be more favorable to Democrats.

Mr. Allred has mostly ignored his Democratic opponents in the Senate primary race this year, focusing his campaign instead on Mr. Cruz. In a video introducing his campaign, he said the senator had “embarrassed” Texans and had “cheered on the mob” at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Mr. Allred has been able to attract interest from donors inside Texas and around the country, far out-raising Mr. Gutierrez, his closest opponent in the race. By mid February, Mr. Allred had raised more than $18.4 million, compared with about $1.3 million for Mr. Gutierrez.

Mr. Gutierrez gained statewide attention for his aggressive advocacy on behalf of the adults and children who were killed in the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and their families. He has taken forceful stances in favor of gun control and staked out positions on other issues, like health care, that are to the left of Mr. Allred, calculating that a combative and partisan approach would provide a better path to beating Mr. Cruz than Mr. Allred’s across-the-aisle approach.

In a televised debate, Mr. Gutierrez attacked Mr. Allred for trying to appeal to all sides, particularly when it came to business, and for signing onto a congressional resolution with Republicans that criticized President Biden’s handling of immigration and the border.

Mr. Allred defended his position, saying that the way to win tough races was to build coalitions and that his vote on the resolution had been about “whether or not we stood for the status quo.”

“When it comes to immigration reform, it’s going to have to be bipartisan,” Mr. Allred said.

In the end, Democrats favored Mr. Allred, seeing him as the better choice in what is likely to be a hard-fought and expensive general election.

Though Mr. Cruz is highly unpopular among Texas Democrats, but he retains support among Republicans, who are likely to turn out to vote in force in a presidential election year, especially with Donald J. Trump at the top of their ticket, as seems likely.

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