Ted Cruz challenger Colin Allred visits the RGV to campaign, endorses Michelle Vallejo

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McALLEN — Colin Allred, the North Texas congressman who is hoping to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz next November, was in the Rio Grande Valley this week to lend his support to another campaign hopeful, Michelle Vallejo.

The pair officially endorsed each other’s campaigns on Friday while Allred was in the region making campaign stops, and visiting family in Brownsville.

“I’m also really excited to be here and to endorse and support my friend, Michelle Vallejo, and her run for Congress,” Allred said as he and Vallejo sat for a chat with MyRGV.com over coffee Friday morning.

“I think that she is a breath of fresh air and she’s exactly what we need in the United States Congress,” Allred added.

Allred, a Dallas native and three-term Democrat representing the 32nd U.S. Congressional District, said he chose to endorse Vallejo because she is running for “the right reasons” — representing her local community rather than playing political football over hot button issues.

Vallejo echoed those sentiments in her own endorsement of Allred, whom she described as a fighter ready to “represent our families.”

“I think it’s very important to unseat Ted Cruz and to unseat Monica De La Cruz because I think that when we have politicians who are out for their own personal gain over representing the people of our home, our communities and our state, we have big problems,” Vallejo said.

Vallejo is seen as a progressive Democrat, and is running to unseat Republican Monica De La Cruz for Texas’ 15th Congressional District.

In November 2022, De La Cruz became the first woman and first Republican to win the congressional seat in over 100 years.

Meanwhile Allred has called himself a more moderate-leaning Democrat who won his seat in Congress after unseating Republican Pete Sessions, who had held the office for 22 years.

U.S. Rep Colin Allred, D-Dallas, is shown during a visit to McAllen on Friday, Aug. 25, 2023. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Nonetheless, both Democratic candidates similarly criticized their respective opponents over what they called hyper-partisanship and a penchant for using the Valley as a political prop.

“(Ted Cruz is) one of the most extreme politicians in the country. He’s proud of that. And I think he’s used the Valley as a place to go on what I call ‘political safaris’ where he gets on his outdoor clothing and he goes and stands on the river … and he pretends like that is how you secure a border,” Allred said.

“I reject that entirely. I know that it’s possible for us to both secure our border and make the immigration system better meet the needs of our economy,” he added a moment later.

Again, Vallejo’s comments mirrored Allred’s.

“Monica De La Cruz will depict our home as a place that is a problem, that is chaotic, that is overrun and overwhelmed … but there’s so much more to highlight and there’s so much more to prioritize,” Vallejo said.

Allred said Cruz has lacked accountability and that was ultimately what spurred him to try to unseat the two-term senator.

“Whether it’s leaving our state to go to Cancun during the (2021) freeze, or being one of the architects of the insurrection, or voting against legislation that helps us and then claiming the credit, in many ways, for the benefits of it, he’s not had any accountability,” Allred said.

“This election is about that.”

But Allred isn’t the only candidate throwing his name in the hat for a chance to go up against Cruz in November 2024.

Thus far, a dozen people have filed to run in the March 5, 2024 Democratic Primary.

Michelle Vallejo, of Mission, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Monica De La Cruz, R-McAllen, in the 15th Congressional district race, is shown during a meeting in McAllen on Friday, Aug. 25, 2023. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Of the group, Roland Gutierrez, who serves as the Democratic state senator of Texas’ House District 19, which runs from San Antonio and west across the South Texas Plains, is largely seen as Allred’s strongest competition.

But Allred said his experience in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as his work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, gives him an edge over Gutierrez.

“When I hit the ground as the next senator from Texas, I won’t have to have any learning on the job of what we’re doing at the federal level versus the state level,” Allred said.

“I’ve been a workhorse in the United States Congress, not a show horse,” he said.

However, one of the biggest takeaways he’s learned about public service has come not from his experience in government, or even in the private sector, where he worked as a civil rights attorney, but rather from sports.

Allred played Division-1 college football at Baylor University before putting law school on hold while he spent five years as a linebacker in the NFL. And it was being part of a team that taught him the lessons that have since guided his public service.

“I think that’s one of the things that sports teaches you, is that we’re not as different as we think we are. And if we can find those common values then we can work towards a common goal,” Allred said.