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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Gromer Jeffers Jr.

State Rep. Julie Johnson launches campaign to replace Colin Allred in Congress

State Rep. Julie Johnson on Tuesday officially launched her campaign to replace Colin Allred in Congress, joining a crowded field in what’s expected to be one of North Texas’ marquee contests.

“I’ve had a wonderful opportunity learning how to be a legislator in the statehouse,” Johnson told The Dallas Morning News. “That experience and all my other life experiences have prepared me to be able to continue that kind of advocacy on the federal level.”

Johnson, 57, has been preparing to run for Congress since Allred announced he was forgoing another term to challenge Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

A Farmers Branch Democrat, Johnson filed her congressional campaign committee with the Federal Elections Commission last week. On Monday, her supporters held a fundraiser for her campaign.

Tuesday’s official announcement came with a list of backers, including the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, the Texas Hospital Association, the Equality PAC, LPAC, and the Human Rights Campaign. She’s also supported by some of her colleagues in the Texas House.

“Texas AFT is endorsing Representative Julie Johnson for Congress based on her record of commitment to ensuring quality education for all students and empowering the educators who make it possible,” said Zeph Capo, president of the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers, in a statement. “Her tireless advocacy for public education and teachers’ rights aligns perfectly with the core values of Texas AFT. "

In her campaign launch video, Johnson said “our communities are under attack.”

“I already know how to get the job done and how to win the toughest battles,” she said.

If elected to District 32, Johnson would be the 17th openly gay person to serve in Congress, according to her campaign.

Johnson joins a growing field of contenders in the March 5, 2024, primary to replace Allred in District 32, which is anchored in northern and eastern Dallas County.

In May, Dallas trauma surgeon Brian Williams announced his campaign to replace Allred. Other declared candidates include Dallas lawyer Justin Moore and activist Sandeep Srivastava.

Dallas City Council member Adam Bazaldua is considering a campaign. Some operatives are trying to recruit Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia to run for the seat.

The most watched action in next year’s election will be in the Democratic primary.

Once a Republican stronghold, the district was redrawn by Texas lawmakers in 2021 into one more favorable for a Democratic candidate.

According to the Texas Legislative Council, the district’s voting-age population is 46% white, 23% Black, 22% Hispanic and 6% Asian. That means the candidate winning the primary will have to build a diverse coalition.

“The people of Texas need leaders who can be effective and who can get stuff done,” she said. “I have experienced and have been able to do that.”

Johnson said she wanted to work in Congress to push for greater access to affordable health care, develop legislation to curb gun violence, insist equality for all people, and promote a strong economy.

“We’re at a crisis in our country, where people don’t feel those things,” she said. “They can’t find affordable health care, they can’t find affordable housing, our school systems are declining because we’re not paying our teachers.”

“We need people who are going to advocate strongly for all of these issues,” she continued. “I’ve done that in the Texas House and I’ll continue to do that at the federal level.”

According to Johnson’s campaign, her service in the Texas House included “passing bills to ensure life-saving drugs for Texans aren’t held up by prior-authorization requirements.”

Johnson also touts protecting victims of sexual assault by demanding transparency about repeat offenders from state boards. She said she ensured that survivors of Dallas first responders who die in the line of duty have full access to benefits.

A lawyer, Johnson is vice chairwoman of the Texas Women’s Health Caucus in the House and has fought for reproductive rights as the Texas Legislature passed some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country.

“I have been an integral player to Texas Democrats’ defensive efforts to kill a lot of bad legislation and I feel really good about that,” she said. “To be able to affirmatively pass things in an environment where I’m the minority party is equally satisfying.”

Johnson avoids labeling her brand of politics, telling The News she’s a “Julie Democrat.”

“There’s aspects of my voting record that are very moderate. And I’m very issue-based,” she said. “I don’t categorize myself as either progressive or moderate. I’m a Democrat and I fight for democratic values.”

Johnson is married to gastroenterologist Susan Moster. They have two sons, Nicholas and Ben.

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