- Chuck Lindell American-Statesman Staff
Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced Wednesday that she will run for governor, giving Democrats their highest-profile candidate to date.
Valdez submitted her resignation to Dallas County commissioners in the morning, then flew to Austin to file her candidacy paperwork with the state Democratic Party.
“Good government is about finding solutions to real problems, not putting a spin on lies and creating fear. We’re here to make people’s lives better, not hurt them,” Valdez said during a news conference at party headquarters in downtown Austin.
“Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but for far too long hard-working Texans have been left behind, kept out and frankly attacked for who they are, where they come from and who they love,” she said.
Valdez was first elected sheriff in 2004, when Republicans had a firm grasp on Dallas County, and raised her profile in 2015 when she sparred with Gov. Greg Abbott over immigration practices the governor criticized as “sanctuary city” policies.
Valdez was also sharply critical of 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.”
Moving to undercut Valdez’s announcement, Abbott unveiled an endorsement from the Dallas Police Association, the police union in her hometown.
“I am committed to increasing support and protections for our police officers, and I will do whatever I can to make sure they know that Texans have their backs,” Abbott said. “They put their lives on the line each and every day to make our communities safer, and we remain grateful for their sacrifice and dedication.”
Considered a rising Democratic star, Valdez was given a featured speaking role at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, is a U.S. Army veteran and has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement.
“Like so many Texans, I have lived the life where your day starts way before the sun rises. I was born the eighth child of migrant farm workers. I grew up between San Antonio and distant fields in the north. Sometimes all my parents thought about was where the next job or their next meal was coming from. But we always had faith,” Valdez said.
She said she looked forward to holding kitchen-table conversations with voters about issues that matter most to them.
“I know what it is to have to decide if food or rent will get the funds. I know what it is to have to decide if tuition or a decent place to live will make the cut this week,” she said. “This is about the common, everyday Texan who needs to have a voice, and we’re about to give them a voice.”