Lupe Valdez has served as the Sheriff of Dallas County for 13 years, but Wednesday in Austin, she announced her run for Governor. State Democratic leaders hope that Valdez's heritage-she peppered her announcement speech with Spanish phrases, and took questions from reporters in both Spanish and English-will improve turnout among the state's large and growing Latino population.
"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".
Manny Garcia, deputy chairman for the Texas Democratic Party, said White's announcement should complete the field of candidates they are expecting will run for governor.
Saying Democratic support exists if voters can be roused, Valdez downplayed GOP dominance in Texas, including Abbott's 20-point victory over Democrat Wendy Davis in the 2014 race. "We're here to make people's lives better, not hurt them", Valdez said, peppering her remarks with Spanish.
Until Wednesday, six little-known Democrats had filed to challenge Republican Gov.
Valdez has been the sheriff of Dallas County for 12 years.
"She's got to get Democrats in the state to transfer the intense negative feelings they have for Donald Trump into enthusiasm for her campaign", said Dr. James Henson, who runs the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. Texas has not elected a Democrat to statewide office in over two decades. She and Gov. Greg Abbott have sparred before over immigration practices the governor has criticized as "sanctuary city" policies. Hours after she formally announced, his campaign team trumpeted an endorsement by the Dallas Police Association, a notable law-enforcement group in Valdez' hometown.
Several other lesser-known Democrats, including the son of a former Texas governor in the 1980s, are also running.
Using a mock dating website called "DHarmony", the search clicks through 10 well-known Democrats who declined to run against Abbott, from U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio to former Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Davis. State law prohibits her from holding one office while running for another.
Valdez was among about 40 female sheriffs in the US, a number that amounts to only about 1 percent of the total sheriff population, according to the National Sheriffs Association.
He often polls as the most popular politician in Texas and already has more than $40 million with which to campaign.
"Texas is not a red state, it's a nonvoting state", said Valdez.
Going into the 2018 election cycle, the next step for Valdez is to secure the Democratic nomination for governor by winning the primary election in March.
Over the past year, Valdez has attacked the state's anti-sanctuary cities law, Senate Bill 4, which Abbott has lauded as a measure to improve public safety. At the time, Abbott responded by threatening to pull $250 million in criminal justice grants to counties that followed Valdez's lead, though Dallas never lost any funds. "I think people are fed up with a small amount of people running the show", said Shannon Perri, a Valdez supporter.