Lupe Valdez describes herself as fighting for all Texans to have an opportunity. Valdez, 70, the Democratic challenger to Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, served as Dallas County sheriff until December 2017.
“She grew up the daughter of migrant farm workers in the poorest neighborhood in San Antonio,” the Valdez campaign says.
Born in San Antonio in 1947, Valdez earned degrees from Southern Nazarene University and the University of Texas at Arlington. She served in the U.S. Army Reserve, reaching the rank of captain and also worked for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
She was elected as sheriff in 2004. The county jail had been failing inspections prior to her election, and in 2010, it passed inspection. She was also credited with improving morale and battling corruption.
As part of that position, she garnered national attention during her very public dispute with Gov. Abbott. Valdez announced her office would cooperate with state and federal authorities on a case-by-case basis concerning the issue of immigration.
In running for governor, she first had a hard-fought primary nomination in early 2018, which included a runoff election against Houston businessman Andrew White, the son of the late Texas Gov. Mark White.
“With her nomination, she has become the first openly LGBTQ and Latina major party candidate for governor in Texas and in the United States,” her campaign said.
In July 2016, Valdez addressed the Democratic National Convention where she led the crowd in a moment of silence for fallen officers.
During her nationally televised speech, she said, “When I told my father that I was going to join the police, he got angry.”
“You see, he and my older brothers had been beaten by the police for no legitimate reason,” Valdez told the crowd. But she described how working for years for good, her father changed his view and talked about how proud he was of her.
Her top priorities are Medicaid — and other health programs for the poor — and education, including universal pre-K. Valdez has said she is not in favor of raising taxes, but she is also opposed to putting caps on taxes levied by cities and counties.
Valdez would redirect $800 million away from border security, saying the money is used for things like gunboats. “What are they going to do… shoot at the families that are trying to come across?” Valdez asked.
Valdez has said she supports concealed carry of guns, but she also wants stronger background checks for gun purchases.
Valdez has also said she would support a minimum wage between $12 to $15 per hour. Her official campaign material says because she “was able to earn a living wage, and had access to healthcare, she had a fighting chance.”