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Leticia Van de Putte’s Lite Guv Bid Assures One Outcome: She will be heard

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: Photo by Mary Tuma, License: N/A

Photo by Mary Tuma

State sen. Leticia Van de Putte announced her bid for Texas lieutenant governor at San Antonio College in November

But hearing the overwhelming enthusiasm among her allies, Van de Putte turned to her family and her faith for guidance. The Van de Puttes eventually decided they were strong enough to handle the campaign and in mid-November, admittedly late in the race, they rolled out a formal announcement.

Mama. Ain’t. Happy.

On a chilly November morning, hundreds of Texans sardined themselves into the San Antonio College gymnasium on San Pedro Avenue. The lively sounds of a mariachi band entertained and energized the crowd. The curtain dropped to reveal a red and blue sign solidifying what all were anxiously anticipating: “Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor.”

“Friends, mamma’s not happy. I’m not happy with how things are going. My family knows what that means—when mamma’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy,” said Van de Putte as she took the podium, launching her official bid to run for lieutenant governor. Laced with populism, Van de Putte’s speech promised to deliver economic equality to working and middle class families, veterans, students and women, who she guaranteed would not be used as a “pawn in some political game.”

Not mincing words, the six-term senator delivered a punchy, acerbic critique of the perceived failures of current GOP leadership in areas of immigration reform, transportation, public school funding, health care and the “war on women.” Real-life priorities of too many mainstream Texas families simply no longer count in the hyper-partisan state political arena, said Van de Putte. She wasn’t shy about taking pointed shots at top Republican officials for looking to higher political office and neglecting the state citizenry.

“For years, the Governor’s been too busy trying to be President, and the Lieutenant Governor’s been too busy trying to get to the U.S. Senate—nobody’s been minding the store!” she said.

“Texas deserves better. And that, my friends, is why mama ain’t happy,” said Van de Putte.

Since her announcement, it’s been fairly smooth sailing for the state senator, who ran uncontested in the Democratic primary. However, the road ahead is expectedly arduous.

The tired (but painfully factual) reality for Texas Democrats is their failure to elect anyone to statewide office since 1994; a Democrat hasn’t sat in the lieutenant governor’s seat since 1999, when Gov. Rick Perry (briefly) took over after Bob Bullock, before replacing George W. Bush as guv. And if you ask local and state Republican leaders, that reality isn’t changing anytime soon.

“We always take the opposition seriously and we never take anything for granted. Having said that … I think she has very little chance of winning,” said Republican Party of Texas Chair Steve Munisteri, pointing to what he considers a poor job by Dems of engaging low-propensity voters (at least as far as the primary was concerned) and the deep red conservatism of the state. Case in point: A February University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll showed voters opting for any of the (pre-primary election) four GOP lieutenant governor candidates—including frontrunners David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick—over Van de Putte by a 9-12 point margin.

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