Texas state Rep. Julie Johnson has spent the better part of the last three decades laying the groundwork for a campaign for higher office, which could culminate in 2024 with her becoming the first openly gay congressperson elected from the South. But a first-time candidate — Brian Williams, a trauma surgeon who’s become a national advocate for gun safety — is seeking to eclipse Johnson’s elected experience by running on his life story.

Williams and Johnson are the two leading candidates in the race to replace Rep. Colin Allred, who’s leaving his bright blue north Dallas seat as he vies to oust Sen. Ted Cruz. In 2018, Allred unseated GOP Rep. Pete Sessions in what was historically a Republican district. But in 2021 redistricting, Republicans turned Allred’s district into a Democratic “vote sink” (Cook PVI of D+14) to protect surrounding Republican incumbents. So whoever wins the March 5 Democratic primary (or May 28 runoff if no one clears 50% of the vote) has a clear path to Congress.

Johnson entered the race with endorsements from about two dozen colleagues

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