By John Celock
The sheriff of Dallas County has stepped down from her post in order to enter the Democratic primary for Texas governor.
Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced Wednesday that she would be seeking the governorship. Valdez’ announcement comes as Texas Democrats seek a candidate to oppose Gov. Greg Abbott (R). Valdez enters what is shaping up to be a two or three candidate field seeking to oppose Abbott.
Valdez, a career law enforcement officer, is stepping down from the sheriff’s office as she finishes the first year of her fourth term. She sent a letter to Dallas County officials Wednesday stepping down from the sheriff’s post.
Valdez, who worked in law enforcement at the county and federal level, narrowly captured the sheriff’s office in 2004, succeeding a Republican sheriff who had faced corruption accusations. The sheriff’s department and county jail faced federal oversight when Valdez entered the sheriff office. Valdez has been credited with changing the culture of the sheriff’s department and how the jail is run during her tenure.
On the Democratic side, business Andrew White, the son of former Gov. Mark White (D) and former Balch Springs Mayor Cedric Davis have both entered the gubernatorial race.
Valdez seeks to become Texas’ third female governor, following former Gov. Ann Richards (D) who served from 1991 to 1995 and former Gov. Miriam Ferguson (D) who served from 1925 to 1927 and 1933 to 1935. Ferguson was viewed as a stand-in for her husband, former Gov. Jim Ferguson (D), who was barred from holding the governorship again after his 1917 impeachment.
If successful Valdez would be the first Democrat to hold the governorship since Richards was defeated in her 1994 bid for a second term by Republican George W. Bush.
Valdez is also seeking to be Texas’ first Hispanic governor and the first openly gay individual to be elected governor in American history. Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey (D), was the nation’s first gay governor, but did not come out until his 2004 resignation speech. McGreevey continued to serve as governor for three months following his announcement. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D), who succeeded to office in 2015 and was elected in 2016, is the first openly bisexual governor in American history.