Lupe Valdez: Democratic stalking horse

Texas Monthly’s R.G. Ratcliffe believes Democratic gubernatorial nominee Lupe Valdez is going to lose — maybe bigly — to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott this fall.

I have to agree. Valdez is the former Dallas County sheriff.  She is Texas’s first openly gay Latina candidate for governor. That’s two strikes against her in the eyes of many Texas voters. The third strike happens to be that she is running against an incumbent who remains popular among a majority of Texas voters.

I’ll be candid. I am likely to vote for Valdez this fall, if only because I have grown weary of single-party domination in Texas. Democrats haven’t won a statewide race in Texas for two decades. I arrived in Texas in 1984, about the time Democrats began losing their vise grip on statewide offices. It was competitive for a time. Then the GOP took complete control … of everything!

The Texas Monthly article, though, does suggest that Valdez — as the leading Democratic Hispanic on the ballot — could serve as a useful stalking horse for many other races on the ballot.

Read the Texas Monthly article here.

I want to mention, however, one statewide race that also might turn as a result of Valdez’s presence on the ballot. That would be for U.S. senator, which features a competitive contest between Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger (and U.S. Rep.) Beto O’Rourke.

That is one contest that interests me seriously. I want O’Rourke to launch the Cruz Missile into retirement. It’s not yet clear to me whether O’Rourke’s rural Texas strategy is going to work; he’s spending a lot of time touring rural counties that one might expect to vote Republican this fall. He likely is trying to cut his losses there while maintaining his expected majorities in urban centers.

Valdez’s gubernatorial candidacy might lure enough Latino voters to the polls to give someone such as O’Rourke — who is fluent in Spanish — a serious push toward the finish line.

I don’t yet have a grassroots feel for how the Cruz-O’Rourke contest is playing in North Texas. O’Rourke is likely to do well in Dallas County, which has been trending Democratic in recent years. My sense is that he must do very, very well there to put him over the top.

Lupe Valdez might give him the push he needs.

I get that Valdez clearly doesn’t want to be seen as a mere “stalking horse” for other Democrats on the 2018 ballot. She wants to be the next Texas governor. I’m one Texas resident who would express gratitude if she is able to make the state at least competitive once again between the two major political parties.

That’s not a bad legacy.

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