Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez has endorsed Royce West over MJ Hegar in the Democratic primary runoff to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, just under a week after Tzintzún Ramirez finished a close third in the crowded primary.
"On every single issue that I care about as a progressive, it is clear to me that he is the stronger choice, and I will do everything I can to help him get elected," she said during a news conference with West on Monday afternoon in Austin. She added that West is also the better choice to "build a multiracial coalition that speaks to the diversity of this state."
Tzintzún Ramirez narrowly missed the runoff Tuesday, getting 13.2% of the vote. West, the Dallas state senator got 14.5% of the vote and Hegar came in first with 22%.
West told reporters he expected to also win the support of two other former rivals, Chris Bell and Michael Cooper, in the coming days. Bell finished sixth Tuesday with 8.5% of the vote, while Cooper came in eighth with 5%.
As for Tzintzún Ramirez's support, West called it "historic from a standpoint of a true relationship that will bring Latinos and African Americans further together as well as Anglos and others."
Tzintzún Ramirez, a longtime organizer, had run as one of the most progressive candidates in the 12-way primary. She had the backing of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, as well as U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, of San Antonio.
As she touted West as the better choice for progressives, Tzintzún Ramirez pointed to his consistency on issues including abortion and gun control. She also said she was "proud" that they both have supported decriminalizing illegal border crossings, which Hegar opposes.
Hegar, the former Air Force helicopter pilot, is the choice of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Both Tzintzún Ramirez and West were sharply critical of the DSCC's decision to intervene in the primary late last year.
"This shows that we're not gonna allow Washington to make the decisions in terms of who's going to be the nominee," West said at the endorsement news conference. "Those decisions will be made here in Texas and not in Washington."
West and Tzintzún Ramirez got along during the primary, while she had a more tense relationship with Hegar. Hegar and Tzintzún Ramirez disagreed over how far measures should go to fight gun violence, while Hegar's campaign was critical of Tzintzún Ramirez on matters of campaign finance.
In response to Tzintzún Ramirez endorsing West, Hegar's campaign said she would "continue focusing on what secured her the top spot in the primary," traveling far throughout the state and raising over $4 million.
"From meeting with labor unions in apprentice shops and on the picket line, to talking gun violence prevention in the living rooms of passionate survivors, to visiting health care clinics to hear from patients and providers ... MJ is building a broad coalition across Texas that makes her the candidate" to beat Cornyn, Hegar spokeswoman Amanda Sherman said in a statement.
The runoff election is May 26. The winner of the primary runoff will face off against Cornyn in November.
This story was published in The Texas Tribune.