U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Texas, said when it comes to Washington there are “show horses” and “workhorses.” He vows to be the latter as he runs for U.S. Senate, while calling Republican Sen. Ted Cruz the former.
“We can't afford six more years of Ted Cruz, of somebody who I think has pitted us against each other and who I think has not really done the job that we elected him to do,” Allred said during a recent sit-down interview at Spectrum News’ Washington bureau.
“He's been more interested in being a media personality, maybe a right-wing kind of culture leader, but certainly not delivering legislation that I think helps us as Texans. I feel similarly to the way I did in 2018. He doesn’t reflect the Texas that I know,” he continued.
Allred is a 40-year-old former civil rights attorney in his third term representing the 32nd congressional district of Texas. Prior to serving in Congress, he worked in the Obama administration in the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of General Counsel.
In 2018, Allred flipped a long-held Republican seat. He was able to hold on to to it before the district was later redrawn after the 2020 census to be safely Democratic.
Instead of running for reelection, Allred is vying for higher office. This, despite the fact it has been nearly 30 years since a Democrat won statewide in Texas.
When asked why this race will be different, Allred told Spectrum News, “What we're ready for is fresh ideas and new leadership from somebody who, unlike Ted Cruz, will actually try and find our common ground, who understands who we are.”
The congressman said if elected senator his top priorities include addressing how Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the country, as well as investing in infrastructure as the state continues to grow.
Allred said he is proud of the role he played in bringing $35 billion to Texas under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as well as how he’s served veterans. He pointed to how he led the bipartisan effort to secure the Garland VA Medical Center. He is also proud of his involvement with the passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
“We're the number one trade state in the country. Mexico is our number one trading partner, Canada's number two trading partner. That would not have happened without folks like me pushing forward,” Allred said.
Allred is also a father to two sons and is the first-known congressman to take paternity leave. He said he believes it should be an option available for parents across the country.
“If a former NFL linebacker taking it helps another man in some other area take it then maybe it'll do some good because there's a lot of research that shows that when men take leave, it has so many benefits for the entire family,” he said.
To face Cruz, Allred will first have to get through what will likely be a competitive primary.
Earlier this week, Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, threw his hat into the ring. Gutierrez is an immigration attorney who has served in the Texas Legislature since 2008. He represents a vast senate district that includes Uvalde. After the Robb Elementary School mass shooting, Gutierrez emerged as one of the most outspoken advocates for gun safety.
Allred said while he welcomes anyone who enters the race, “I've beaten a 22-year Republican incumbent. I've had the national kind of Republican Party do their thing of dumping millions of dollars trying to attack me. I know what that's like. I've been through that. I know I can win in this race as well.”
On the issue of gun safety, Allred said he believes Texas culture is about responsibility and safely possessing firearms.
“We also, unfortunately, have led the country in mass shootings, and this is something we have to address,” he said. “There's a middle ground there that we can find that can address these mass shootings without impacting folks' rights.”
In response to the news that Gutierrez was joining the race, Cruz’s campaign spokesperson said, “Texans will now get to watch Colin Allred and Roland Gutierrez slug it out for who can be the most radical leftist in the state. Meanwhile, Sen. Cruz will continue passionately defending Texas and delivering real results for 30 million Texans."
When Allred first announced he was running for Senate, Cruz’s team said, “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.”
Cruz has been especially vocal in criticizing the Biden administration over its handling of the Southern border.
Allred said he grew up visiting his grandmother in Brownsville and believes the border is “not just a political backdrop.”
“Sen. Cruz has not shown that he can do anything about it,” Allred said. “We haven't been able to find the bipartisan compromise that we know needs to be done, that's going to invest in our border security, but also address our immigration system in a way that allows us to meet the needs of our economy.”
Cruz narrowly defeated former Democratic congressman Beto O’Rourke by nearly 3 percentage points in 2018.
Allred said since he first ran for Congress he has tried to win over Republicans who may not see themselves fit within the current party’s politics and said he will be “good for business.” Allred said he will also be focusing on outreach.
“I'm very focused on voting rights, on making sure we expand our democracy, that we get everybody involved in our democracy,” he said. “That's been one of our issues in Texas is voter turnout.”
Born and raised in Dallas, Allred played football at Baylor University. He later played professionally as a linebacker for the Tennessee Titans for five years.
“On a football team, you'll see folks from all different backgrounds, who have to come together in pursuit of a common goal, and you have to find ways to do that together, even though you're very different,” he said. “That helps me as a legislator, to find that kind of common ground to understand that I'm going to have my values, you're going to have yours, let's see what we can work together on to actually deliver for our people.”