Not Purple Yet
Valdez’s governor bid illustrates Dems’ weakness
News that Lupe Valdez is the state Democratic operation’s pick for governor says way more about the party than it does about the Dallas County sheriff.
This Hail Mary, just five days before the filing deadline, illustrates how far Democrats are from turning Texas even a tinge purple.
You may care about this because you’re a Democrat. But if you’re a Republican, you should care, too: A strong two-party system benefits everyone because it breeds respect and cooperation, not scorched-earth lawmaking. It requires candidates to address the issues that matter — and work even harder for voters’ support.
Nowhere is a robust race more important than for the state’s top job. The Dallas County sheriff is not the candidate to make that happen.
Certainly, Valdez is one of the most popular Democrats in Dallas County, and she’s been a trailblazer — the only gay, female Hispanic sheriff in the state. Before she was elected to that job, she served as an Army captain and worked as a federal agent for Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security. She has a long record of service.
But those attributes alone are unlikely to convince voters that she has the leadership to occupy the governor’s office.
Valdez also enters the race with nothing approaching the name recognition and fundraising clout of the Democrats’ last gubernatorial candidate, Wendy Davis.
Even so, Republican Greg Abbott swamped Davis by 20 percentage points in the general election. Now, four years later, Abbott has the additional advantage of being the incumbent with a massive head start on the campaign trail, boasting a $40 million-plus war chest.
We recommended Valdez in her inaugural sheriff ’s race and have occasionally sided with her. For instance, she, too, is a critic of the sanctuary cities law that Abbott enthusiastically pushed for and later signed.
However, as close observers of Valdez’s 12 years as sheriff, we would assess her tenure as merely adequate.
She eventually cleaned up chronic problems in the Dallas County Jail system, but the Commissioners Court, particularly Commissioner John Wiley Price, played a huge role in those improvements.
Most concerning has been Valdez’s transparency-resistant tendencies, especially in regard to prisoner deaths and other violent incidents.
Just a year ago, we were stunned by her answer when we asked why the media is not made aware of escaped prisoners or deaths in custody, once deputies discover a problem. She responded that it often takes hours for deputies to notify her and implied that this wasn’t a problem because reporters will find out through unofficial sources.
We will be interested to see how Valdez handles the tough questions that are sure to dog her on the campaign trail.
The Democratic Party’s difficulty in finalizing a candidate for the state’s top job speaks loudly to its challenges.
It’s too bad someone along the lines of rising stars Julián and Joaquín Castro or state Rep. Rafael Anchía didn’t take the plunge. In addition to six little-known candidates who filed prior to Valdez, Andrew White, the son of late Gov. Mark White, announced his candidacy Thursday in Houston.
Democrats have a lot of hard work — and soul-searching — in front of them if they are ever to provide a slate of formidable statewide candidates and give voters a real chance for two-party governance.
What she said “I think we’re going to raise whatever money’s necessary. I don’t believe that we need 40, 60, 90 bazillion dollars. [Gov. Greg] Abbott may have the money — we’re going to have the people.”
Lupe Valdez, Democratic candidate for governor