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Allred’s Unforced Error in U.S. Senate Bid

February 22, 2024

Ted Cruz is up for reelection in November. While the consensus of polling indicates the race leans towards a Cruz win, some early polling indicates he may face a serious challenge this year. Historically, while Cruz has been a darling of hardcore Republicans, he has been one of the least popular elected officials in the last several years in Texas, especially with independents. In 2018, Cruz won a narrow victory over Beto O’Rourke (51%-48%). That same year, Gov. Greg Abbott was reelected with a 13-point margin.

Since that election, Cruz has been widely derided for abandoning the state for a vacation in Cancun during the Uri deep freeze and his recent bill that would exempt U.S. senators from standing in line with the rest of us at airport security. One poll found his unfavorable rating only two points lower than Biden’s in Texas.

Cruz’s challenger will likely be Colin Allred, a Democrat congressman from the Dallas area. Polling indicates Allred is running well ahead of his opponents in the Democratic primary and is likely to win the nine-way race without a runoff.

Allred has been following the playbook of some Democrats, like Tom Suozzi, who recently won a special election by distancing himself from Biden and in particular his incomprehensible border policy. He was one of only three Democrats who voted to condemn Biden’s border policy in January.

He has also generally struck an independent course on energy policy, frequently bucking his party. As reported by The Texan last year, Allred voted against the Lower Energy Costs Act and the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act last year. Many were surprised, therefore, to see Allred voting to back Biden’s recent pause on new LNG export facilities last week.

Laying aside the politics for a moment, Biden’s pause is one of the dumbest public policy moves I have seen in a long time. Biden claimed that he wanted to give his administration time to study the effects of permitting more LNG exports on climate change. However, it has been widely documented that the U.S. reduction of carbon dioxide emissions since 2007 is mostly attributable to the conversion of electricity generation from coal to natural gas. If U.S. exports of natural gas are limited, it will slow the conversion from coal to natural gas generation in other countries or force them to buy gas from Russia, which has almost no environmental regulation of its natural gas production, and will help it finance its aggression in Europe. It will not reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by one molecule.

At the same time, natural gas exports are a boon for the U.S. economy generally and, of course, particularly for the Texas economy. Not surprisingly, Biden’s pause has been wildly unpopular in Texas.

Which makes it all the more head-scratching why Allred would have fallen on his sword over this vote. The bill was destined to pass in the House and had no chance of passing in Congress or surviving a presidential veto, so his vote was entirely symbolic. To be sure, there was plenty of unhinged progressive pressure on all Democratic members to toe the party line. But with his commanding lead in the primary, I am not sure why he felt the need to take such an unpopular stance with Texas voters. You can be certain it will be campaign fodder for Cruz ads this fall.

This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.

Bill King is a businessman and lawyer, and is a former opinion columnist and editorial board member at the Houston Chronicle. He has served in a number of appointed and elected positions, including mayor of his hometown. He writes on a wide range of public policy and political issues. Bill is the author of “Unapologetically Moderate.” 

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