Texas Democratic state Sen. Roland Gutierrez announced his 2024 U.S. Senate bid Monday, vying to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
The state senator represents a wide-ranging district that includes San Antonio and the city of Uvalde, where he has advocated against gun violence since the Robb Elementary School shooting last year.
A nearly four-minute video announcing his candidacy focused on the aftermath of the shooting and featured multiple family members of victims.
Since the massacre, which left 19 students and two teachers dead and prompted widespread calls for greater gun control laws, Gutierrez has introduced multiple pieces of legislation to increase accountability and prevent future mass shootings. In February, he introduced a bill aimed at avoiding communication breakdowns by ensuring multi-agency radio infrastructure is in place in certain counties he represents.
"What happened in Uvalde wasn't just about guns, it was about neglect -- the neglect of rural Texas, the neglect of the systems in this state that are supposed to keep us safe. That failure hasn't been isolated," Gutierrez says in the video before listing perceived Republican failures across a range of issues.
Before facing Cruz, Gutierrez must win the Democratic primary in March, where he's up against candidates including ex-NFL linebacker-turned-U.S. Representative Colin Allred, who managed to flip a Dallas-area congressional district blue in 2019 and has already raised more than $6 million in the first two months of his Senate campaign.
Whoever wins the nomination will face a formidable task trying to unseat Cruz, a two-term senator who survived an all-out effort by Democrats to run him from office in 2018. That year, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke more than doubled Cruz's fundraising before losing by nearly three percentage points.
Gutierrez's video indicates a strategy to channel Democratic anger after the Uvalde shooting -- feelings aimed largely at the state's Republican leaders who have declined over the years to strengthen the state's gun laws despite multiple high-profile mass shootings - to rally voters around his campaign.
His Twitter page is full of posts commemorating the victims of mass shootings, for which he lays blame at the feet of Republicans.
"If Texas Republicans had shown some fortitude and passed commonsense gun safety laws, this young man would still be with us today," he wrote last week about a victim of a mass shooting in Fort Worth.
"Shooting after shooting, they have shown that they do not care about what happens to us, our children, or our communities. Shame on them," he added.