Dallas Co. Sheriff Lupe Valdez filed in the Democratic primary to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott (R). Valdez also resigned her current office, which was required by the state’s “resign to run” law. Valdez was first elected in 2004 and has been re-elected three times.
“Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but it is out of reach for far too many,” she said in a statement released prior to her announcement. “That’s why I’m running.”
Prior to her resignation, she was one of just two female sheriffs in Texas, the first Latina sheriff in Texas and the first openly gay sheriff in the Nation. As far as we can tell, no former sheriff has been elected governor of Texas since John Ireland in 1882, but his lawman days were in Kentucky, long before his election here.
She is also trying to be the first Democrat elected governor since Ann Richards in 1990.
Six other candidates have already filed for the party’s nomination, and Houston investor and entrepreneur Andrew White, himself the son of the second most recent Democratic governor, is expected to announce his candidacy tomorrow.
The large field likely means that the Democratic gubernatorial nomination will be decided in a primary runoff for the first time since 1990, when Richards, then the state treasurer (an elected office that has since been abolished), defeated Jim Mattox, then the attorney general, 57%-43%. About 1.5M voters participated in the 1990 gubernatorial primary, and 1.1M voted in the runoff. Democratic primary and runoff turnout has not approached those figures in a gubernatorial election cycle since.
Meanwhile, one potential rival stepped aside following Valdez’s formal entry into the race. Austin Democratic party activist Gary Brown announced he would withdraw from the race and endorse Valdez. As far as we can tell, Brown had not yet filed for the race but did establish a campaign committee.
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