Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez plans to resign and run for governor, Dallas-area media reported Wednesday evening — news that was greeted with a sigh of relief from Texas Democrats who were facing the 2018 elections without a well-known name atop the ticket.
Valdez, who helped break a Republican grasp on Dallas County when she was first elected sheriff in 2004, raised her profile in 2015 when she sparred with Gov. Greg Abbott over immigration practices the governor criticized as “sanctuary city” policies.
Valdez also sharply criticized Senate Bill 4 — signed into law earlier this year by Abbott — that penalizes Texas cities and counties that decline to help with federal immigration enforcement, calling it “anti-immigrant grandstanding.”
Serving her fourth term as sheriff, Valdez is considered a rising Democratic star and had a featured speaking role at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Cleveland. One of eight children of migrant farm workers, she is a lesbian U.S. Army veteran with more than 30 years in law enforcement who bills herself as the only Hispanic female sheriff in the United States.
Valdez announced last month that she was exploring a potential run for governor.
“Too much of one thing corrupts, and I’m a strong believer in a two-party system,” Valdez told the Texas Tribune. “I’m hoping that enough people are seeing that too much one-sided is not healthy for Texas.”
State law requires Valdez to leave her job as sheriff to run for governor. She has three years left in her term.
The Dallas County sheriff’s department said Valdez was not accepting interview requests “because she did not resign today.”
“As she has stated in the past, the sheriff is considering the next stage in her career,” department spokeswoman Melinda Urbina said. “The sheriff will make a formal announcement when her final decision is made.”
Valdez resigned effective Dec. 8, WFAA-TV reported, quoting Carol Donovan, head of the Dallas County Democratic Party. The Dallas Morning News also reported that Valdez will run for governor.
“Yes! Loved her as sheriff but she has a higher calling,” state Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, tweeted. “Texas needs her now.”
“She has some real bona fides and real courage,” state Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, said on Twitter.
According to the Texas secretary of state’s office, three Democrats have thus far filed to run for governor — Tom Wakely, a self-described “Berniecrat with a Panama hat” from San Antonio; perennial candidate Grady Yarbrough, who has done little campaigning in previous races; and Adrian Ocegueda, a chartered financial analyst.
In addition, Dallas businessman Jeffrey Payne said he will file his candidacy paperwork Monday at Texas Democratic Party headquarters in Austin. Making his first run for office, Payne has been campaigning since October.
Other potential Democratic candidates include Garry Brown, an unsuccessful candidate for Travis County commissioner in 2014, and Andrew White, son of former Democratic Gov. Mark White; Mark White died in August.
Candidate filing ends Dec. 11.