The country’s first and only queer Latina sheriff is reportedly planning to run for Texas governor in 2018, facing off against one of America’s most anti-LGBTQ politicians.
Lupe Valdez is expected to step down from her position as the Dallas County Sheriff to mount a gubernatorial bid in an already crowded field. Democratic Party officials confirmed her intention to run, although Valdez’s office refused to comment. Claiming that the sheriff is “considering the next stage in her career,” a spokesperson said in a statement Valdez would “make a formal announcement when her final decision is made.”
If the 70-year-old wins the Democratic nomination, she will face off against Gov. Greg Abbott, who has endorsed a number of bills attacking the LGBTQ community in 2017.
The governor called a special session on July 18 to force through a bill which would force transgender people to use the restroom corresponding with the gender listed on their birth certificate. That legislation stalled numerous times during general session and again failed to become law following further debate by lawmakers.
Abbott did, however, sign into law in January which would allow adoption and foster care agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples if doing so would conflict with their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Despite the attacks on the LGBTQ community, Abbott remains widely popular in one of the nation’s most conservative states. The 60-year-old was re-elected in 2014 over Wendy Davis, who became a rising star in the Democratic Party after her headline-grabbing filibuster of a Texas abortion bill a year earlier. Abbott still won by more than 20 points.
But if anyone can beat the odds to become Texas’ first Democrat governor in two decades, local advocates believe it’s Valdez.
The daughter of migrant farm workers, Valdez is extremely well-liked in the Dallas area. She has served as the Dallas County Sheriff for four terms, winning reelection in 2016 with 58 percent of the vote. Prior to her current position, she was an investigator with the U.S. Customs Service and a Homeland Security agent.
Last year Valdez gained national renown when she was invited to speak at the 2016 National Democratic Convention. In her address, she lambasted the increasing political division under Trump.
“Violence is not the answer,” Valdez told the audience in an acclaimed speech. “Yelling, screaming and calling each other names is not going to do it. Talking within your own group in your language only your group understands leads nowhere. We have to start listening to each other.”
Valdez is just one of a number of Democrats who have announced their intention to run in 2018, including Dallas Eagle owner Jeffrey Payne and San Antonio businessman Tom Wakely. The latter describes himself as “Bernie Sanders in a cowboy hat.”
Should the sheriff win in 2018, she would make history all over againbecoming the first Latina lesbian to serve as a U.S. governor.