Texas Democrat Colin Allred beats back GOP challenger

Texas Democrat Colin Allred beats back GOP challenger
© Bonnie Cash

Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas) is projected to defeat Republican Genevieve Collins, an education technology executive, in the suburbs of North Dallas, securing his place on Capitol Hill for a second term.

Allred, a former linebacker for the NFL's Tennessee Titans, stunned Washington in 2018 when he defeated veteran Rep. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-Texas), who had held the seat since the district was created in 2003.

His victory over Collins was less surprising.

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Allred is a rising star in the Democratic ranks and was elected co-president of the party's formidable freshman class. He had raised more than $5.2 million over the cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and election handicappers considered his win a likely bet heading into Election Day.

Democrats across the country had made health care their central campaign focus, an issue of particular importance amid the coronavirus pandemic, and one that may have resonated especially loudly in Texas, which has the highest uninsured rate in the country.

Allred's pitch hinged on a defense of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era health care expansion that President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE and a number of GOP-led states, including Texas, are seeking to repeal. That position marked a stark contrast to that of Collins, who knocked ObamaCare as a case of government overreach that has spiked costs and eroded provider options for patients.

The issue of coronavirus relief also played heavily in the race. The airline industry, a major force in the Dallas region, has been clobbered by the pandemic, and the two candidates sparred repeatedly over which party was to blame for the impasse on another round of emergency stimulus, which would include a lifeline for those companies.

In the end, though, Collins may have fallen victim a force outside of her control: Texas is shifting blue.

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE had won the 32nd District by 2 points in 2016. And although the state has not sided with a Democratic presidential candidate since former President Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterMeghan McCain: Country has not 'healed' from Trump under Biden America needs a new strategy for Pacific Island Countries Afghanistan and the lessons that history does not offer MORE in 1976 — and Trump beat Clinton by 9 points — the race between Trump and Joe BidenJoe BidenFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push Protesters demonstrate outside Manchin's houseboat over opposition to reconciliation package Alabama eyes using pandemic relief funds on prison system MORE was deemed a toss-up heading into Election Day.