Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat, announced his candidacy on Monday to challenge incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the state’s 2024 U.S. Senate race.
Mr. Gutierrez, 52, represents a district along the southern border that includes San Antonio and the community of Uvalde—the location of the Robb Elementary School mass shooting of May 24, 2022 in which a lone gunman killed 19 students and two teachers, and wounded 17 others.
He has made gun control, and what he describes as Republican refusal to take action on the issue, central to his campaign.
The Texas Democratic U.S. Senate primary now has two candidates with solid name recognition: Mr. Gutierrez, and Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), a former football star at Baylor University in Waco, who played four years in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans.
Mr. Gutierrez and Mr. Allred are vying to become the first Democrats to win a statewide office seat in Texas in close to 30 years.
Mr. Cruz, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, is seeking his third term in the upper chamber of Congress. Mr. Cruz is among the most prominent conservative voices in American public life and has been a vocal and tireless opponent of the Obama and Biden administrations.
In the 2018 Texas U.S. Senate race, Mr. Cruz won reelection, fending off Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) in a surprisingly close race, 50.9 percent to 48.3 percent.
Cruz’s spokesman Nick Maddux responded to Mr. Gutierrez entering the race with a statement, saying: “We welcome Senator Gutierrez to the race. 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.”
Native and Resident of San Antonio
The son of Mexican immigrants, Mr. Gutierrez grew up in San Antonio, graduating from Central Catholic High School in the city. Mr. Gutierrez earned his bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and his law degree from St. Mary’s University Law School, San Antonio.
He is a practicing immigration attorney.
Mr. Gutierrez served in the Texas House of Representatives from 2008 through 2021. He also served on the San Antonio city council.
Mr. Gutierrez and his wife, Sarah, and daughters, Izabella and Victoria, live in San Antonio.
Gun Control Is a Central Issue
Mr. Gutierrez emphasizes that he is a “proud gun owner” and backer of the Second Amendment.
But since the Robb Elementary School massacre, he has been on a mission to see changes made in gun laws that he says will make society safer. Legislation he has filed include raising the minimum age of gun ownership to 21 and creating a database of those who have made bulk ammunition purchases.
In a campaign video, Mr. Gutierrez is shown driving around Texas.
“I know just about every mile marker on this road,” he says in the video. “In these small towns I see my family, our love for Texas. But with every mile that passes, I’m filled with sorrow, anger. But also hope and resilience. Where I’m going, I’ve seen horrors you couldn’t imagine. And that’s at the end of this drive in a community that’s been through unthinkable pain, where I find my strength.”
A segment of the video shows law enforcement wearing helmets and bulletproof vests and carrying rifles, arriving at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022.
Mr. Gutierrez says: “After 19 children and two teachers died, the Republicans wouldn’t even allow us an opportunity to talk about ways to protect our kids. It’s why we have to do something now. But what happened in Uvalde wasn’t just about guns. It was about neglect.”
When the Power Grid Went Down
Mr. Guiterrez often mentions Mr. Cruz taking his family on a vacation to Cancun, Mexico during a mid-February 2021 storm in which the power grid failed and left millions of Texans freezing and without power.
Both Republicans and Democrats criticized Cruz for leaving Texas when a state of emergency was in effect.
Mr. Gutierrez cited the episode in the campaign video, saying, “And when our senator goes to Cancun while Texans are fighting for their lives in a winter storm, that’s just indefensible.”