U.S. Rep. Colin Allred preparing to challenge Ted Cruz in 2024, sources say

U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, speaks to reporters during a press conference on voting rights legislation and reforming the filibuster at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 12, 2022. (Graeme Sloan/Sipa Usa Via Reuters, Graeme Sloan/Sipa Usa Via Reuters)

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U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, is set to challenge U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for reelection in 2024 and could announce his campaign within days, according to two sources familiar with his plans.

Allred, a former NFL player and civil rights lawyer who was first elected to Congress in 2018, has been considering for months whether to take on Cruz. Speculation ramped up last week after it was noted that Allred’s campaign website appeared to be undergoing changes.

Politico first reported Monday that Allred could launch a bid against Cruz as soon as this week. The two sources who spoke to The Texas Tribune were not authorized to publicly discuss Allred’s plans, and aides to the representative did not respond to requests for comment.

Allred was in Richardson on Monday to hold an event highlighting the CHIPS and Science Act, the bipartisan legislation that President Joe Biden signed into law last year to spur domestic semiconductor production. Asked about a potential Senate run by a Dallas TV reporter, Allred declined to answer but criticized Cruz for voting against the CHIPS Act, noting the state’s senior GOP senator, John Cornyn, supported it.

Allred would begin the campaign as a major underdog in a state that has not elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994. Beto O’Rourke ran a surprisingly tight race against Cruz in 2018 — losing by less than 3 percentage points — but Democrats have not come as close since then.

The race is not without risk for Allred. He would have to give up his newly safe seat in Congress, where he has been rising within the Democratic caucus.

Allred also is likely to have credible primary competition. State Sen. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio is poised to run, though he is unlikely to make any announcements until after the current legislative session, which ends May 29.

Allred worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama before returning home to Dallas to run for Congress in 2018. With O’Rourke at the top of the ballot, Allred became one of two Democrats who flipped congressional seats that year in Texas, unseating U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, in the 32nd District.

National Republicans sought to win back Allred’s seat in 2020, but he won by a comfortable margin. The next year, the Legislature redrew his seat to be safer for Democrats, and Allred sailed to a third term.

One advantage Allred could have — at least over fellow Democrats — is money. He has proven himself to be a strong fundraiser through multiple election cycles, and he ended the first quarter of this year with $2.2 million cash on hand. Cruz had $3.3 million in the bank.

Allred’s Senate campaign would likely focus on his bipartisan bona fides. His 2018 victory marked a major breakthrough for Democrats in the traditionally Republican suburbs of Dallas, and the GOP-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce has endorsed him in both of his reelection campaigns.

Republicans are already gearing up to take on that image. A spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee tweeted Monday that Allred “voted in favor of reduced sentences for violent criminals,” referring to Allred’s February vote against a resolution to block a controversial overhaul of the Washington, D.C., criminal code.

Matthew Choi contributed reporting.

Disclosure: Politico and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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