For Colin Allred, one issue dominates all others in his race to unseat Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2024: Ted Cruz. 

“We have a senator who has taken advantage of the position that we placed him in to just get himself attention, get himself on TV, promote his podcast three times a week, to sell books, to demagogue, but not to actually deliver for our state,” Allred said in an interview with El Paso Matters.

Allred, a former NFL player who has represented a suburban Dallas district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2019, announced earlier this year that he would seek the Democratic nomination to take on Cruz, who has served in the Senate since 2013. 

In a statement, the Cruz campaign said Allred supports “radical leftist policies” that Texans will reject.

Ted Cruz

“In the meantime, Senator Ted Cruz will continue doing what he has successfully done for over a decade, fight and deliver results for Texans in the U.S. Senate,” the statement said.

Allred kicked off his “Lone Star Listening Tour” on Wednesday and Thursday in El Paso, where he received the backing of two of El Paso’s most prominent Democrats, U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar and state Sen. César Blanco. 

One of Blanco’s colleagues in the Texas Senate, Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio, also is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Cruz. Several other candidates have also announced they’ll run for Senate in the March 5 Democratic primary.

Allred said El Paso and other border communities have faced daunting challenges with migration because of decades of failures by Congress to fix outdated immigration laws. He said Cruz is part of the problem.

“It’s hardliners like him who have shot down every chance we’ve had to have a comprehensive immigration reform that can both address our security, but also deal with folks who are already here, who are undocumented, allow us to process folks more quickly and consistently, and match our immigration systems to the needs of our economy,” Allred said. “And all that’s held back by the fact that he’s not doing anything.”

He said Cruz was a “show horse” interested in getting time on Fox News.

“I think what Texans actually expect is to have a senator to actually do something to respond” to immigration and other challenges, Allred said.

He said more must be done to make sure El Paso and other border communities share in the economic growth of Texas. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the number of jobs in El Paso grew by 2.5% between 2021 and 2022, less than half the statewide growth rate of 5.7%. 

“We have to develop our human capital better in the state. We have so much potential that goes wasted and it’s not just in El Paso, it’s also in Dallas. It’s also in Houston. It’s all across our state.” Allred said. “And that to me, comes back to our education system, to making sure that folks can raise a family and pursue their version of the American dream here.”

Allred’s basic message – that Cruz is a self-promoter who is out of step with Texas – is largely similar to what El Paso’s Beto O’Rourke said when he challenged Cruz in 2018. O’Rourke ran the most successful statewide campaign by a Democrat since 1982, but still lost to Cruz by just over 3 percentage points.

“We’re going to build on what Beto showed in 2018. But our state has also dramatically changed over the last six years. We’re not in the same place we were, and the country is not in the same place it was six years ago. And so past is certainly not prologue here,” he said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Roland Gutierrez’s hometown. He is from San Antonio.

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986.