Lupe Valdez kicked off her campaign for governor in Dallas on Sunday afternoon. It was the first big event she’s held since she announced her candidacy last month.
The Democrat spent a dozen years as Dallas County sheriff. Now she’s honing her message to a statewide audience.
And she took aim at the Republicans who lead Texas.
“They have made up issues: bathrooms, sanctuary cities, massive voter fraud, Jade Helm,” she told supporters at Tyler Station in Oak Cliff. “It would be amusing if it wasn’t causing so much harm. It’s costing us jobs, and it’s certainly destroying the Texas brand.”
Instead, Valdez said she’d focus on an inclusive agenda -- and solving problems faced by everyday Texans.
She called for the "need to build something new -- a new Texas."
“Our children are cramped into crowded classrooms,” she said. “Working Texans need a raise. Our roads and bridges need serious investment.”
Valdez is drawing heavily on her own story. The eighth child of migrant workers, she said her parents argued about whether they could afford her to send her to school. They did, and she went on to a career in the Army and in federal law enforcement.
In 2004, Valdez surprised many when she became the first woman, first Latina and first lesbian sheriff of Dallas County. Perhaps most surprising, she was a Democrat who won in a county still largely controlled by Republicans at the time.
Now, Valdez hopes to upend two decades of Republican control of the governor’s mansion. Gov. Greg Abbott has raised more than $40 million in his re-election bid.
“We must begin to start gathering like-minded people who believe in doing good for Texas and bring them together to begin to make a change,” Valdez said. “And that’s what I want to start doing right now.”
First, though, she must win her party’s nomination in the March 6 primary. It’s a crowded field – 10 candidates, including Houston’s Andrew White, the businessman son of a former Texas governor.