DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Democratic State Senator Royce West of Dallas ended months of speculation Monday morning by announcing he’s jumping into the crowded primary to unseat Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn.
West told a packed room of supporters at the Communications Workers of America offices in Dallas, “I’m battle-tested. You’ve seen in battle. I’m ready today to announce my candidacy for the U.S. Senate.”
West said he wants to work with Republicans to solve problems, but he also made it clear, he has no problem calling out President Trump. “We have witnessed a President stoke the seeds of divisiveness along cultural and economic lines.”
He called for civility and said he is a bridge builder, unlike President Trump.
West said he hopes to be like Lyndon Baines Johnson, who before becoming President, was U.S. Senator in Texas. “I say to Democrats and Republicans I will be an LBJ-type Senator who sits down and gets the job done.”
The long-time State Senator said he has fought to protect a woman’s right to choose and will continue to do so, and that he believes in adding what he called
common-sense gun laws that won’t infringe on the Second Amendment, and universal healthcare.
When asked if he prefers Medicare-for-All that eliminates all private health insurance for a single payer or allowing people to continue their private health insurance and give others an option to buy-in to Medicare, West said, “We’ve got to sit down with Democrats and Republicans because Republicans have a different viewpoint on that, and so, the question becomes can we bring together Democrats, whether the Bernie Sanders model, whether it’s the Joe Biden model, and work with Republicans on the other side and come to a consensus on the things we agree upon.”
One West said he believes there’s wide agreement on is that drug prescription prices are too high.
During the last Democratic Presidential debates, ten of the candidates said they would support giving free healthcare to those who are in the country illegally.
West said, “Where I am right now is that citizens have to be first, and to the extent we can maintain and help non-citizens out, I don’t have a problem doing it.”
He became the seventh Democrat to run, and among those who’ve already tossed their political hats into the ring include retired Air Force helicopter pilot Mary Jennings (MJ) Hegar, Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards, and former Houston area Congressman and Gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell.
West shared what he thinks sets him apart: his experience in the State Senate. “What I believe separates us, I have 26 years experience on the very issues we are all talking about.”
Hegar raised $1 million during the second quarter and has nearly $600,000 cash on hand.
Edwards announced that within the first 24 hours of announcing her candidacy last week, she raised $200,000.
Senator Cornyn announced he raised $2.5 million in the second quarter and has $9.1 million cash on hand.
At the same time as West’s announcement, Cornyn’s campaign released a video which called West’s positions on abortion and guns liberal.
In response West said, “He didn’t call me liberal Royce West when I was helping him with legislation in Texas. So the question is, what’s changed?”
Long-time Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and former Dallas Mayor and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who ran for U-S Senate against Cornyn in 2002, praised and endorsed West during the event.
Kirk said West is in a good position. ” just think the people of Texas are ready for someone, standing in the middle, common-sense to focus on the needs of our state and stop putting us second. I am encouraged that we’re going to have a very rigorous, contested Democratic primary which as we did when I ran 18 years ago. And I think that will help him because I think it will force him to get out to South Texas and West Texas. We know him here in North Texas, but I believe tough primaries help sharpen your message and help the state to get to know you.”
State Senator West said he has plans to campaign across the state and is now concentrating on fundraising and attracting more volunteers to his campaign.
He said O’Rourke’s close loss last year started a positive trend for Democrats in Texas, and that it was not a political fluke.
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW WITH ROYCE WEST HERE: