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Democratic Candidates For 32nd Congressional District Sprint Toward Primary Runoff

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Colin Allred and Lillian Salerno are pulling out all the stops to get their supporters to the polls before the primary runoff election this Tuesday.

They're competing to become the Democratic candidate for the 32nd Congressional District in Dallas and Collin Counties.

CBS11 asked Allred and Salerno why they believe they're the stronger Democrat to run against veteran Republican Congressman Pete Sessions this November.

Colin Allred and Lillian Salerno
Colin Allred and Lillian Salerno are competing to become the Democratic candidate for the 32nd Congressional District in Dallas and Collin Counties.

Allred said, "I have a story to tell about who we are in this area. I'm a local guy, born and raised here by a single mother and that my story is a lot about who we are here because everything I've done is with the support of the people of this area."

Salerno said, "To beat him, you need somebody like me. Somebody who's worked across the aisle, knows how to talk to Republicans and Independents and has a strong history of fighting for working people."

Both served during the Obama Administration: Salerno as Deputy Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Allred as a Special Assistant in the General Counsel's office at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Salerno though said there's a big difference with their experiences. "My opponent is untested. He's unvetted. He's somebody who's only served as an Obama appointee for five months. I served for five years."

In response, Allred said, "If we are going to use who has spent most time behind a desk in Washington, D.C. as the deciding factor, then Pete Sessions is going to win this race. That is the wrong way to approach this race. Our campaign has always been about bringing fresh blood and fresh ideas to Washington, D.C. Only then can we finally bring change to this district and in Congress."

During the March 6 primary, Allred received more than double the votes Salerno did.

But runoff elections are very different because far fewer people vote.

Both campaigns say they aren't taking anything for granted and have knocked on tens of thousands of doors in the district.

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."

Salerno says her top priority is expanding access to affordable healthcare, and she believes in medicare for all. "It's about priorities, you determine your values as a country based on your priorities. Yes, we have plenty of money to make sure this entire citizenry of the United States has access to affordable healthcare."

She also wants to the government to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies the cost of prescription drugs.

Whoever wins the Democratic primary runoff, analysts expect a fierce debate this fall.

Click here for a look at early voting totals in Texas.

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