This Hispanic sheriff could be the first lesbian Governor of Texas
Lupe Valdez has become the first openly lesbian candidate to win a nomination for Texas Governor.
The four-term sheriff will take on anti-gay Republican incumbent Greg Abbott after beating Andrew White by five percentage points in the Democratic run-off on May 22.
In a rousing victory speech, she paid tribute to her partner – who she called “my darling sweetheart Lindsay” – before promising to “fight for change.”
“We’re going to make it happen. A stronger and fair Texas. A tolerant and diverse Texas. A Texas where the everyday person has a voice and a shot just as I did.”
Valdez then pleaded with Texans to let her help them, saying: “Let me find a path for you.
“Let me find a path for your health care. Let me find a path for your living wage.”
She continued: “Texas is changing. Look around you. This is what Texas looks like. Like all of us.”
The nominee told her fans: “We have the grassroots. We have the people. We have the momentum. We are the ones who truly represent Texas.”
And Valdez, 70, dismissed fears that she can’t win against her heavily backed opponent in the November election.
“Please tell me when I didn’t have an uphill battle… I am getting darn good at uphill battles, and I’m not done yet,” she said to rapturous applause.
And Valdez wasn’t the only LGBT candidate making history in Texas yesterday, as lesbian veteran Gina Ortiz Jones won the right to contest the 23rd Congressional District in November.
If she wins, the 37-year-old former Air Force intelligence officer – who has been endorsed by Vice President Joe Biden – will become the first openly lesbian woman and first Filipina-American elected to Congress from Texas.
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 recalled: “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.
“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 percent to 49 percent, and steadily increased her margin of victory in subsequent votes. Last year, she won her third election by 59 percent to 37 percent.
Valdez said that turning out minority votes was key to this widening gap between her and her Republican challengers.
More from PinkNews
Last November saw a wave of LGBT candidate break new ground by winning elections.
This included Danica Roem’s momentous victory over anti-trans incumbent Bob Marshall to become the first transgender member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
And anti-LGBT politicians have been warned that voters will be coming for them this November.
Watch Valdez accept the nomination here: