Leticia Van de Putte’s Lite Guv Bid Assures One Outcome: She will be heard
Published: March 26, 2014
A combination of Van de Putte’s reputation for bipartisan cooperation, her legislative track record (especially concerning middle-class family and women’s issues) and her ability to genuinely connect with voters in a personal way, said Garcia, made the choice clear. And in the eyes of the woman-centered political organization, endorsing Van de Putte for lite guv would also bring a historic element to the November election, marking the first time two women have been at the top of the ticket in Texas.
The work to edge Van de Putte to a bid took flight: A favorable preliminary poll by Garcia’s group showed the strength of the senator’s growing name recognition and the increasing weakness of the GOP field, instilling some confidence. A November Annie’s List luncheon with Davis at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk drew 1,000 attendees (double the size of last year’s event) and elicited a standing ovation when Garcia called on Van de Putte to run. A coalition of institutional organizations like the Texas Democratic Party, the AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood and the new, former Obama operative-backed Battleground Texas all rallied behind Van de Putte, urging her to run.
Gliberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party, spent several months in talks with Van de Putte, delicately encouraging her to make the jump.
“The conversation required us to not only recognize and understand the difficulty of what she was having to deal with, but also express how critical her candidacy for lieutenant governor would be,” said Hinojosa. “And how much of a difference it would truly make to the lives of the people she dearly loved; women, children and families struggling to make it.”
For the TDP, Van de Putte is suited in the best possible position to ascend to the post: She’s a passionate public speaker, she’s charismatic and she’s a policy wonk. On top of all of that—the “icing on the cake”—said Hinojosa, is the fact that she’s a Latina.
But, still, she remained undecided. What tipped the scales for the mother of six was receiving the endorsement of her family.
“While sister and dear friend Wendy Davis knew pretty quickly after the filibuster she’d be running, I was just trying to find a way to breathe, to put one foot in front of the other and to help my family grieve,” said Van de Putte, who, at the time, was still in the process of handwriting some 600 thank-you cards to those who sent their condolences to the San Miguel family. She cringed at the thought of putting her family through increased scrutiny.
“I know that although Republicans will tell you they’re the party of family values, they’ll be the first to go after your family,” she said, alluding to criticisms of Davis’ past, amplified by right-wing politicians and commentators. “And after suffering so many losses in our family, it was a very difficult decision for us and one that I was reluctant to make.”
In fact, Van de Putte said she was actively trying to recruit someone else to the statewide post.
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