Saturday, May 18, 2024

Lupe Valdez makes history in Texas

Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Texas on Tuesday, kicking off a tough race against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in November’s general election.

Valdez’s victory was somewhat expected, after she ran well ahead of Democratic opponent Andrew White in the nine-candidate primary in March. Her victory also broke historic barriers as she becomes the first Latina and first openly gay person nominated for governor by a major party in the state.

Valdez, 70, now faces an uphill battle against the incumbent Abbott, who is favored to win. Abbott has amassed more than $40 million for his re-election campaign, while Valdez in recent months raised only about $200,000.

The red state has also not elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994 and it’s been since 1990 that a Democrat won the governor’s office. Analysts say that for Valdez to win in November, it will be essential for her to increase historically low turnout among Latino voters. Latino Texans tend to vote Democrat ― though in 2014, Abbott got 44 percent of the Latino vote.

In the lead-up to the runoff, Valdez had faced criticism from local Latinx activists who questioned her record on immigration as sheriff, saying her department often cooperated with ICE in handing over undocumented detainees. Valdez’s team told HuffPost in April that as a local official, she faced challenges in pushing back against the anti-immigrant efforts at the federal and state levels.

However, her victory will intensify speculation as to whether Texas could become a politically competitive state for Democrats; “It’s long overdue to have Latinas sit in these halls of power,” native Texan Amy Hinojosa, president of national Latina organization MANA, told HuffPost last month. “When you think of the generations of girls to come, to see a Latina, a queer woman in the state house, that just represents such power for young women to be able to aspire to that.