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State Rep. Rhetta Bowers latest to join race for Colin Allred’s U.S. House seat


State Rep. Rhetta Bowers latest to join race for Colin Allred’s U.S. House seat

Sep 19, 2023 | 1:27 pm ET
By Patrick Svitek
State Rep. Rhetta Bowers latest to join race for Colin Allred’s U.S. House seat
State Rep. Rhetta Andrews Bowers, D-Garland, speaks with colleagues in the House Chamber on March 5, 2019. (Emree Weaver/The Texas Tribune)

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State Rep. Rhetta Andrews Bowers, D-Rowlett, has joined the large primary to succeed U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, in representing Congressional District 32.

Bowers made her campaign official Tuesday, reversing a previous decision not to run and facing off against a Texas House colleague, Rep. Julie Johnson, D-Farmers Branch.

Bowers released a video where she touted her legislative experience and promised to “keep standing up for you and the progressive change we need.” She also took a thinly veiled jab at Johnson, suggesting she "broke ranks" during the House Democratic quorum break in 2021.

Bowers also announced an initial list of endorsements including former U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, and seven Democratic colleagues in the Legislature.

At least 10 other Democrats are running for Allred’s solidly Democratic seat as he vies for U.S. Senate.

Johnson had long been expected to run for the seat and made her bid formal after the regular legislative session ended in late June. Bowers said earlier that month that she would not run.

“It’s curious that Rep. Bowers has flip-flopped on her previous statement about running to Texas voters,” Johnson said in a statement that noted how little money Bowers recently had in her state campaign account. “I am still the candidate with the best ability to raise and deploy the necessary funds to ensure Democrats hold this seat.”

Bowers’ announcement did not directly address her reversal, but in a news release, she said it is “imperative that the historically marginalized communities of our part of Texas continue to have a voice and a seat at the table in Congress.” Bowers is Black and after redistricting in 2021, the district no longer has a white majority of eligible voters; Johnson is white.

Bowers did not spare Johnson in her launch video as she addressed the 2021 quorum break, when most House Democrats fled to Washington, D.C., in protest of new GOP voting restrictions. Johnson could not be accounted for at a certain point, and a Texas Monthly reporter tweeted that "[Johnson] and her wife & [state Rep. Jessica González] and her fiancé are in Portugal for a vacation they had been planning, with non-refundable tickets, for a year-and-a-half."

"I was away from my family for 38 days and when some broke ranks, I stood on principle until the bitter end," Bowers said in the video as it showed a headline about Johnson's reported trip.

Bowers’ campaign means there will be a vacancy in state House District 113, which she has represented since 2019. The seat leans Democratic.

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