After local Democrats bungled the opening of Lupe Valdez’s gubernatorial campaign last week with a premature announcement that, disappointingly, resulted in zero headlines containing the phrase “Lupe Fiasco,” the Dallas County Sheriff will actually resign her law enforcement post today to run for governor.
Valdez will make the official announcement just before noon at the Texas Democratic Party headquarters in Austin, but her campaign released a statement this morning:
“Like so many hardworking Texans, I know it’s tough deciding between buying food, finding a decent place to live, and setting aside money for college tuition. Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but it is out of reach for far too many, that’s why I’m running for Texas Governor. I’m a proud Texas Democrat. I believe good government can make people’s lives better, and I intend to do just that,” said Valdez in a statement Wednesday morning.”
Valdez faces an uphill battle in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office in more than 20 years, against an incumbent, Gov. Greg Abbott, who trounced Wendy Davis with nearly 60 percent of the vote in 2014. Valdez is easily the most high-profile Democrat to throw her hat in the ring for 2018—Democrats couldn’t talk either of the Castros, Dallas representative Rafael Anchia, or actor Eva Longoria into what is likely to be a doomed campaign—and the all but certain winner of her party’s primary. Other Democrats weighing a run, however, include Andrew White, son of late Gov. Mark White, former San Antonio congressional candidate Tom Wakely, and Dallas businessman Jeffrey Payne. State Democrats are surely hoping that the country’s only openly gay, Hispanic, woman sheriff will at least draw a strong contrast with Abbott. The two have already butted heads over the issue of sanctuary cities.
Observers at this city’s paper of record and elsewhere have reckoned that if Valdez can help mobilize Hispanic voters, sort of the sleeping giant of Texas politics, while boosting down-ticket candidates, then that may be a consolation prize to mounting a credible challenge to Republicans’ statewide dominance in 2018.
Meanwhile, candidates for Valdez’s soon-to-be-vacant sheriff’s job are lining up.
We’ll check in later today after Valdez officially announces her candidacy. For now, here’s Valdez’s 2016 speech at the Democratic national convention. And just a couple months ago, Valdez joined Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson and Police Chief Renee Hall for a chat at D Magazine HQ. That’s well worth another listen after today’s news.