Sen. Leticia Van de Putte has been getting some love from the national press.
But increasingly, on the ground in Texas, attention is shifting to San Antonio’s Van de Putte, who is running for lieutenant governor, a position that is in some ways the more powerful one in Texas, because that official presides over the Senate. Van de Putte is quietly emerging as a favorite among some Democrats, who see the Hispanic businesswoman and mother of six as the more likely candidate who could help revive her party’s chances.
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, himself a rising Texas Democratic star, is among her most vocal supporters.
And Van de Putte has also found some unlikely Republican allies in her bid, which will pit her against either state Sen. Dan Patrick or current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the general election. The primary runoff is May 27.
“I am part of Greg Abbott’s finance team and John Cornyn’s fundraising team. I am a Republican fundraiser and bundler, but I am hosting a fundraiser for Leticia,” said Louis Barrios, a Texas restaurant owner. “I have switched sides on this race because it is the most important race that we have had in Texas and I am leaving my Republican credentials at the door on this race.”
At issue for Barrios is what he sees as a harsh and alienating approach to immigration and Hispanics from both Patrick, who likened immigration from Mexico to an invasion, and Dewhurst, who has said that he will focus on securing the border.
E-mails to both campaigns were not returned.
“If anything is going to bring out the Latino vote, it’s going to be a Dan Patrick,” Barrios said. “He is waking and kicking a sleeping giant. Leticia’s race, this is one that can really be won.”
Barrios has been making phone calls for Van de Putte, trying to generate support among Republicans and business leaders in Texas, and others have gone public with their preference.
Barrios said he can imagine Republicans voting for Abbott and Van de Putte, which is possible in Texas because the governor and lieutenant governor run separately. George W. Bush had a Democratic lieutenant governor.
“I am not going to compare and contrast candidates but she brings qualities that are appealing to all sides and genders and races,” said Marcie Zlotnik, who started two retail electricity providers and describes herself as an independent who leans Republican. “She has Republican support and nobody is afraid to say it either.”
As I noted before, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which LVdP wins. It won’t take all that many crossover voters, especially if Democrats finally manage to get their base turnout level up. LVdP will be a big asset in that. As Molly Ivins would have said, she has a lot of Elvis in her, and she has the experience and sensibleness to be an acceptable choice to the kind of Republican that can’t bear the thought of voting for Dan Patrick. The main thing she needs right now is financial support so she can get her name and her message out. If you’re supporting Wendy Davis – which of course you should be – you also need to be supporting Leticia Van de Putte. We’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time. Let’s not let it go by without giving it all we’ve got. BOR has more.