The Austin Chronicle

Van de Putte Sets the Date

By Richard Whittaker, November 15, 2013, 12:00pm, Newsdesk

The eyes of the Texas Democratic Party will on the River City next weekend: presumptive lieutenant governor candidate Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, has announced she will announce her 2014 election plans.

The senator, who has held her Bexar County seat since a special election in 1999, announced this morning that she will make a formal declaration of her electoral plans at the Candler Physical Education Center at San Antonio College (1300 San Pedro Avenue, San Antonio) on Nov. 23. Doors will open at 10am.

In a statement released, Van de Putte said, "As a mother, grandmother, and fifth generation Texan, nothing is more important to me than my family and the great state of Texas. I understand that the future prosperity of Texas families is dependent upon the path we choose to take today. So after much prayer, reflection and discussion with my family and friends, I'm ready to let you, my grassroots supporters, know what is next for me."

Headliner writers have prematurely claimed (as the Dallas Morning News did) that Van de Putte has already announced. However, the DMN's Wayne Slater was far more measured when he reported what's really going on: That sources close to the senator are saying she will be getting in.

That will cause a sigh of relief among Democrats. After all, she helped turn a heavily military district, one which should lean Republican, into one of the safest Democratic seats in the upper chamber. Many have expected Van de Putte to get in the race ever since she drew a four year term after redistricting. If she loses, she still has a seat to come back to.

That puts her in a more enviable position than Democratic gubernatorial front runner Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. She drew two years and so, win or lose for the mansion, will not be returning to the Senate in 2015.

The idea of a Van de Putte/Davis ticket is appealing to many Democrats, not least because it would be the first all-female ballot toppers from a major party in Texas history. Oft forgotten in the discussion about the famous filibuster of abortion regulations is that it was actually Van de Putte who got the Dems over the midnight line: when she said "when can a female senator raise her hand and be recognized by her male colleagues," that's when the crowd truly (if temporarily) derailed the bill. Moreover, Van de Putte is a more seasoned lawmaker than Davis: That's an important qualification for any lite guv hopeful, since the other half of their job description is "president of the senate."

Even the pollsters presume that Van de Putte will run: Public Policy Polling has already had a survey out in the field, which could have given her some cause for optimism. In a head-to-head with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, she trails 37% to 46%, with a +/-4.4% margin of error. Moreover, that PPP poll has been queried for undersurveying minorities, especially Hispanic voters who only accounted for 19% of voters questioned. Even with weighting, that could be another ray of sunshine for the senator.

Copyright © 2022 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.