DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Former NFL linebacker and civil rights attorney Colin Allred has won the Democratic nomination to try and unseat longtime Dallas Congressman Pete Sessions in November.

Allred had a 71 percent to 29 percent lead over his opponent Lillian Salerno and declared victory shortly before 9:00 p.m. Tuesday night.

screen shot 2018 05 22 at 9 07 28 pm Colin Allred To Face Rep. Pete Sessions After Winning Democratic Primary Runoff

Colin Allred wins Democratic primary runoff (CBS11)

“I don’t know about y’all but I’m fired up,” Allred told a crowd of supporters. “It has been a long road and I want to begin by acknowledging all the good Democrats in this primary who ran against me.  Everyone who put themselves forward cared about this district.  Cared about their people. And I want to congratulate them on the campaigns that they ran and thank them for their patriotism.”

Allred says his top priorities include improving access to affordable healthcare, and making sure the booming North Texas economy helps more residents.

“We do have a middle skills gap here in this area that we have jobs in this area that we can’t fill. I think it’s job training and I think we have to increase our vocational training at our high schools. We have to invest in our community college system, our technical schools, and invest in apprenticeship programs,” Allred said earlier this week.

Allred, an Obama administration veteran like Salerno, beat her handily during Texas’ March 6 primary. But he was forced into a runoff election by failing to capture a majority of the votes cast in that seven-way race.

Representing some of Dallas’ wealthiest enclaves, Sessions has been in Congress since 1997.

Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in Sessions’ district in 2016, even though her party didn’t field a congressional candidate.

That’s attracted national attention to a Session-Allred race — though the incumbent has so far outraised his challenger.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)