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Meet the Democrats vying to unseat U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions in the fall

In a North Texas congressional district long represented by U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, Democrats Colin Allred and Lillian Salerno say their experience and know-how will help them flip the district.

Texas Elections 2018

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz defeated Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in the race for U.S. Senate. View full 2018 Texas election results or subscribe to The Brief for the latest election news.

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Hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas in the fall, Democrats Colin Allred and Lillian Salerno say the time is right for a different voice representing Texas' 32nd Congressional District. 

Allred would be the first African-American representative of the 32nd District if he were to win. But Texas hasn't elected a freshman woman to a full term in Congress in 22 years — and Salerno said she wants to be part of the class to end that streak.

For either to make history, they'll first need to win the primary runoff on May 22. Allred finished first in the March 6 primary, with 39 percent of the vote to Salerno's 18 percent. The winner will take on Sessions in November's general election. It will be a tall order for whoever challenges Sessions, a powerful member of the House GOP who has consistently tallied high fundraising numbers and has strong ties in the district. But more of the district's voters cast ballots for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, giving Democrats a reason for optimism.

On paper, the Democratic candidates share similar backgrounds – both were raised and educated in the area and became attorneys who served as government appointees in the Obama administration. Their résumés diverge in the years between.

Allred played in the NFL for five seasons for the Tennessee Titans. He then became a civil rights attorney and worked in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of General Counsel under then-Secretary Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio.

Salerno has centered her legal expertise on health care policy and advocacy for small businesses, starting her first company in her mid-20s. She served as deputy undersecretary of rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In the latest video from our Split Decision campaign debate series, find out where the two Democrats think Sessions has gone wrong in representing CD-32, as well as their strategies to turn the North Texas district blue.

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