February 23, 2024

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

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

Ted Cruz is up for re-election 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, 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 in Texas only two points lower than Biden’s.

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, 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. Stopping LNG exports would not reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by one molecule and might actually increase them. Not to mention giving Russia more money to finance its aggression in Europe.

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 regardless of how he voted and it had no chance of passing in Senate 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, it hard to understand why why he felt the need to take such an unpopular stance with Texas voters. The episode once again demonstrates why it is so difficult for a Democrat to win statewide in Texas. Because you can be certain Allred's vote to pause new LNG exports will be campaign fodder for Cruz ads this fall.

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