The memos argue Gutierrez’ background is a boon as Latino voters enter the Texas electorate in droves, with a Latino Victory Fund endorsement announced on the same day.
For Immediate Release: January 31, 2024
Published 01/31/24 11:00 AM ET
State senator Roland Gutierrez’s campaign argues he is the right Democrat to take on and defeat Sen. Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate race due to the state’s demographics and his appeal to swing voters, according to two campaign memos obtained exclusively by The Messenger.
Gutierrez faces Rep. Colin Allred in the Democratic primary first, who has consistently out-raised Gutierrez and led in polls of the crowded field, where Gutierrez has edged into a distant second place.
Still, the state senator representing Uvalde, who gained a national profile after the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary school in May 2022 left 19 children and two teachers killed, has sought to cast himself as the progressive in the race with a real shot at beating Cruz should he make it to the general.
The first memo, from campaign pollster Z to A Research of 1,071 likely voters from this fall found that Gutierrez trailed Cruz by 5 points, but when short biographies of each candidate were read to voters, Gutierrez took a 47% to 46% lead, suggesting Gutierrez just needed to become better known among voters to seize an advantage in the race.
A poll this month from Emerson College confirmed Gutierrez’s competitiveness against Cruz, with the Republican senator in a statistical tie with both top Democrats in a poll of 1,315 registered Texas voters.
Cruz led Allred 42% to 40%, while he edged Gutierrez 41% to 40%, with both findings within the margin of error.
The memo goes on to call Gutierrez the more appealing candidate for Hispanic and South Texas voters given recent erosion of Latino support.
“Democratic underperformance with Latinos, especially South Texas Latinos, is widely acknowledged to have played a major role in Democratic losses in 2020,” read the memo by pollster Nancy Zdunkewicz. “A Hispanic candidate like Roland who flipped a border district and represents nearly one million people in South Texas is the answer to this challenge. Already 57% of Hispanic voters say that they are likely to support Gutierrez, and 34% say they definitely will.”
The memos come on the same day as Latino Victory Fund announced to The Messenger its endorsement of Gutierrez, calling him unafraid to stand against “draconian” GOP policies or stand up for his community.
“Senator Gutierrez isn’t afraid to stand up to GOP extremists and their policies that hurt Latinos, immigrants, women, the LGBTQ+ community, and children,” reads the statement from president and CEO Sindy Benavides. “He wasn’t afraid to stand up for Uvalde families, and he’s unapologetic about his support for gun violence prevention, women’s reproductive freedom, expanding health care access and policies that uplift working families.”
The group said that while there may already be a Latino in the U.S. Senate representing Texas, “Ted Cruz does not support Latino issues, and he’s not good for Texas.”
The second memo by Democratic pollster Matt Barreto, who is a consultant for the Gutierrez campaign, argues that the future of Texas politics must be considered through the Latino community and “extensive research suggests a seasoned Hispanic candidate is best positioned to capitalize on these demographic changes.”
Latinos are an estimated 51% of all registered Democrats in Texas and cast about 32% of all Democratic primary votes in 2022 and 2020, Barreto writes. “With the mobilizing capacity of a strong Hispanic candidate, it is certain that the Latino share of the March 2024 electorate will grow, potentially to around 40% of all Democratic primary votes, with Whites around 40% and Blacks at around 17%.”
He argued the best topline he had in response to Allred’s sizable fundraising advantage, which has stood at 20-to-1 in the race, was that Rochelle Garza beat Joe Jaworski in the 2022 Democratic primary in the attorney general race despite being down 5-to-1 at one point in the cycle.
“There’s community pride and group empowerment connected with a strong Hispanic candidate in the race,” he told The Messenger, calling it a “hunger for representation” in Texas, where hundreds of thousands of Latinos reach voting age every cycle.
A runoff is triggered should no candidate reach above 50% support, he said, would mean all bets are off between Gutierrez and Allred.
“You can throw conventional wisdom out the door at that point, then it’s a two-person contest between two well-qualified, high-profile Democrats and Gutierrez represents a much larger voting bloc,” he said.