Political News

Texas Democrat who would be state's first lesbian and Latina governor wins primary

Posted May 22, 2018 10:52 a.m. EDT

— Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez won her runoff and became the Democratic nominee for Texas governor Tuesday night, making her the first openly lesbian and Latina nominee to win a major party gubernatorial nomination in the state.

Valdez won 53.1% of the vote while her competitor, Andrew White, obtained 46.9%, according to unofficial election results.

Valdez, a former US Army captain, accepted the nomination in a speech Tuesday evening, during which she advocated for equal opportunities for Texans.

"Tonight is a victory for all of us who are fighting for a stronger and fairer Texas. A tolerant and diverse Texas. A Texas where the everyday person has a voice and a fair shot -- just as I had," Valdez told supporters.

In a statement following her win, Valdez also said the victory "proved that no matter who you are, where you are from, or who you love -- in this state, you've got a fighting chance."

The former sheriff will face incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in the general election this November. Texas' decades-long streak of support for GOP governors, along with Abbott's incumbent status and $40 million-plus campaign war chest, make the general election a formidable challenge for Valdez, which she acknowledged.

"I am constantly hearing this is an uphill battle. Please -- tell me when I didn't have an uphill battle," Valdez told supporters Tuesday night, later adding, "I am getting darn good at uphill battles."

Valdez's win came alongside a wave of Democratic women who dominated Tuesday's primaries, including winning races in Kentucky and Texas and giving Georgia the first black woman to ever be nominated for governor by a major political party.

The victories underscored some emerging realities of 2018's primary season: Female candidates -- of which Democrats have record numbers in House races -- have fared well. Political veterans' experience, meanwhile, has been a burden. And while Democratic voters have valued candidates' electability, the party's base, energized by opportunities to put checks on President Donald Trump, has shown little interest in centrists.