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Meet the lesbian sheriff who’s running against an anti-gay Governor – in Texas

Josh Jackman January 3, 2018
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Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez addresses delegates on the fourth and final day of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center on July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty)

A lesbian sheriff is trying to become governor in the deeply right-wing state of Texas.

Guadalupe “Lupe” Valdez, a four-term sheriff, will be running as a Democrat in the primaries this year, and is expected to win.

Valdez is part of a wave of LGBT candidates, with 35 out people expected to run for public office in Texas this year, according to OutSmart.

Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez addresses delegates on the fourth and final day of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center on July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   / AFP / Nicholas Kamm        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

That figure – which has been seen as part of a backlash against President Donald Trump’s regressive policies – is around twice as many as the current record of LGBT candidate in an election cycle.

The total includes Valdez’s Democratic rival for Governor, Jeffrey Payne, a former International Mr Leather who owns the famous Dallas gay leather fetish bar The Eagle.

In response to Valdez’s announcement, Payne said: “The fact that in the state of Texas, a gay man and a lesbian can seek the highest office in the state is amazing, and shows how far we have come as a society.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 18:  Film Subject Lupe Valdez attends the HBO Premiere of "The Out List" at HBO Theater on June 18, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO)
(Getty)

“This is a proud moment in Texas history, as far as I see it.”

Defeating anti-gay Republican incumbent Greg Abbott will be another matter for Valdez – but it’s a worthy cause, considering Abbott’s anti-gay history.

Last year, Abbott said that passing a bill to stop transgender people using public bathrooms was his top priority.

He was a leading voice in backing a frenzy of anti-LGBT legislation in Texas, after the Trump administration ended Obama-era legal resistance from the federal government against discriminatory state laws in North Carolina.

Attorney General Greg Abbott (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Abbott is still popular in the deeply Republican state, but Valdez remains confident.

“We’re giving people hope,” Valdez, 70, told LA Times.

“A lot of people have written off Texas.”

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 28: Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez delivers remarks on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Before she came out, Valdez was in the Women’s Army Corps, at a time when her friends who were gay – or even seen at gay bars – were dishonourably discharged.

When she first ran for sheriff in 2004, she was expected to lose heavily.

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said: “She ran for sheriff in a county that did not have a single countywide official that was a Democrat and hadn’t for 20 years.

Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez arrives on stage to address delegates on the fourth and final day of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center on July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   / AFP / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

“She ran against an incumbent sheriff. She did not have any experience running for office.

“Few people, if any, gave her any chance of winning,” he added.

She won, by 51% to 49%, and steadily increased her margin of victory in subsequent votes. Last year, she won her third election by 59% to 37%.

She said that turning out minority votes was key to this widening gap between her and her Republican challengers.

BIRMINGHAM, AL - DECEMBER 12: Democratic U.S. Senator elect Doug Jones (L) and wife Louise Jones (R) greet supporters during his election night gathering the Sheraton Hotel on December 12, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Doug Jones defeated his republican challenger Roy Moore to claim Alabama's U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Doug Jones celebrates after winning the Alabama senate seat (Getty)

Her run comes after the surprising victory in the race for Alabama’s US Senate seat by Democrat Doug Jones over homophobic Republican Roy Moore, who was accused by nine women of sexual misconduct, including child molestation.

The win has raised hopes for Democrats seeking to win in traditionally red states – like Texas.

Related topics: democratic party, Donald Trump, election, Gay, Guadalupe Valdez, lesbian, Lupe Valdez, Politics, president donald trump, Republican Party, Texas, Trump, US, US, vote

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