EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Texas is gearing up for a heated primary election in the upcoming race for one of its U.S. Senate seats.
While the general election is well over a year from now, in November of 2024, the race against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who is pursuing a third term, is already filling with candidates.
The latest democrat throwing his hat in the ring is state Sen. Roland Gutierrez.
He came to El Paso this weekend to visit with potential voters and spread the word about the upcoming primary election.
Gutierrez's district encompasses 17 counties, from Brewster where Big Bend National Park is located, to San Antonio, and it includes Eagle Pass and Uvalde.
He was in office when the shooting happened at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24, 2022.
Gutierrez told ABC-7 he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to view the hundreds of hours of law enforcement body camera images, showing the horrific aftermath where 19 children and 2 teachers were killed. He also closely followed the investigation into the botched response.
Gutierrez said he is running for U.S. Congress to make change.
"When I go back to Uvalde: if you look at the failed policies of Republican control over 30 years, failed Republican government policies killed those kids," Gutierrez said. "Loose gun laws have led to a rise in crime.
"I own a bunch of guns," He added. "Even Republicans agree with me that we need common sense gun reform, and we need to raise the age limit on access to rifles, assault rifles, to 21."
Gutierrez says he is the product of immigrants who came to the United States from Mexico.
His professional background is in law, and he worked as an immigration attorney before entering politics.
Gutierrez was a member of the Texas House for 11 years before being elected to the Texas Senate in 2021.
In a one-on-one interview with ABC-7, Gutierrez said he has been seeing what is happening in El Paso as the continuing surge of migrants has been entering the country.
And he thinks there is a problem with immigration.
"I'm not for open borders. But we need to have a country of origin program that marries people with jobs in the United States, (that) gets them off coming to the border in this way," Gutierrez said. "(It) does the background check, gives them proper transport; we need to get the cartels out of this business because all they're doing is hurting people."
Another elected official is running on the Democratic ballot for the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Rep. Colin Allred was also in El Paso for a campaign stop in August.
Sen. Ted Cruz is facing several Republican challengers in the primary, which is set for March 5, 2024.
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