Texas Democratic state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who has pushed for police accountability and stricter gun laws in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, announced Monday that he will run for U.S. Senate in 2024


He becomes the second Texas Democrat to embark on what will be a long-shot bid to deny Republican Sen. Ted Cruz a third term representing the nation’s largest 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 have often discouraged big-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 stricter gun laws and firing back at police who waited 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 last year he was defeated by double digits in a challenge against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

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