Nueces County, Tex., District Attorney Mark Gonzalez will enter the Democratic primary to challenge U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) Gonzalez resigned his current position — a significant development given that local conservative activists have been working to oust him for months, reports the Texas Tribune. “I was such a threat they tried to remove me from office,” Gonzalez said in an announcement video as it showed the tattooed DA hopping on a motorcycle. “Now, it became clear to me — and to all of us — that there isn’t one of us, a real American, in Washington, representing real Americans.” Several Democrats are running to take on Cruz, including U.S. Rep. Colin Allred of Dallas and state Sen. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio. Cruz is running for a third term after his close reelection race against Democrat Beto O’Rourke in 2018.
In his announcement, Gonzalez echoed other Democrats in knocking Cruz over his 2021 trip to Cancun during the deadly winter freeze in Texas. Gonzalez also opened up about his own criminal background, saying he was arrested for drunk driving when he was 19 years old, pleaded guilty and “worked hard for a second chance.” Gonzalez’s time as the top prosecutor has been a nationally watched flashpoint for the progressive criminal justice movement. A conservative activist, Colby Wiltse, filed a petition in January to remove Gonzalez from office, accusing him of "incompetency, official misconduct, and failure to give bond." A trial was scheduled to start in December. Gonzalez said his resignation makes the issue moot. In a resignation letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, Gonzalez said he refuses to be a “sacrificial lamb to send a foreboding message to other duly elected DAs in Texas who exercise their discretion.” Gonzalez was among five district attorneys in Texas who vowed not to pursue abortion-related criminal charges if Roe v. Wade was overturned. He previously promised not to prosecute families for receiving gender-affirming care for transgender minors. Gonzalez was first elected in 2016. He narrowly won reelection in 2020, when President Trump won the county by 6 percentage points.