DALLAS - Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez will be the Democratic nominee for governor after winning a close race with Houston businessman Andrew White for the right to face Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in November.
Valdez is the first openly gay and first Latina nominated for governor in Texas. While her victory Tuesday breaks barriers, the 70-year-old former sheriff faces long odds of ousting Abbott this fall.
"Texas is changing. Look around you, this is what Texas looks like," Valdez said Tuesday night. "But here’s the hard part -- Gov. Abbott is going to come out swinging and so are we.”
The runoff generated little enthusiasm among Democrats. Valdez has struggled to raise money and fumbled some questions on policy. Some party activists have also attacked her for cooperating with federal immigration agents as sheriff.
Valdez hosted her election night watch party at Ellen’s in downtown Dallas’ West End. It’s the same restaurant the gained national attention with its gun control message on receipts during the NRA convention earlier this month.
Valdez has spent most of her time since the March primary campaigning outside the Dallas area. She's trying to connect with Democratic voters who are on the fence about which candidate to vote for.
Valdez spoke with reporters on Tuesday while shaking hands with voters outside a Dallas polling location. Valdez said quality public education and sensible gun control are important issues to her.
“Look, I’m an officer, I've been an officer for 40 years. The weapon was part of my uniform but I also know that anyone who cannot handle their disagreements through other than violence should never have a weapon,” Valdez said. “Will we ever stop it I don't know but there's things we can do to slow them down and then find other ways to continue stopping it.”