Analysts say Leticia Van de Putte, the San Antonio state senator who announced her candidacy for Lieutenant Governor over the weekend, will not be the typical Democratic candidate who has enabled Republicans to dominate the state’s politics over the past two decades, 1200 WOAI news reports.
In fact, Van de Putte is seen as the perfect Democrat to help break the GOP stranglehold that has prevented any Democrats from winning any non judicial statewide office since 1994.
“She has a very strong cross over appeal,” said Sharon Navarro, a UTSA professor who wrote a book about Van de Putte. “She is a great collaborative legislators who frequently crosses parties.”
Van de Putte, who speaks fluent Spanish and has a typically Latino life story, is also seen as prompting Hispanic voters, who have historically been less likely than Anglos to head to the polls in off-year statewide elections, to cast ballots for Democrats in 2014.
“She has that ability to work across party lines, to build coalitions among people who you would not necessarily see coming together,” Navarro said.
Van de Putte is also known as a hard worker who has made it a point of specializing in areas which are not frequently Democratic strongpoints. She has become, for example, one of the Senate’s leading experts on the oil and gas industry.
“She has spent most of her legislative live fighting for military veterans, that is a feature you normally don’t find in a number of female legislators.”
Van de Putte is a practicing pharmacist, and her husband Pete Van de Putte is a successful and prominent San Antonio businessman, which also gives Van de Putte an advantage.
Analysts point out that the four Republican candidates are fighting to see who can be the most hard-right, in an effort to appeal to the activist Republicans who decide the COP nomination. In previous years, Democrats have nominated either ideologues or non entities, enabling the Republican nominee to cruise to victory. Van de Putte is expected to provide a centrist alternative which Navarro says may appeal to mainstream Republican voters.
Van de Putte is also close friends with State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth), the likely Democratic nominee for governor, giving rise to speculation that the two many run as a ‘ticket,’ something which is unusual in Texas politics.
“Its yet another sign that the 2014 election is unlike any that we have seen in Texas for a while,” political analyst Jim Hensen told 1200 WOAI news.
Hensen says running as a ‘ticket,’ is risky in Texas, where the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately and can be from different parties.
“While there are always attempts at communication, they don’t have the level of dependency that presidents and vice presidents have,” he said.
Usually when candidates for governor and lieutenant governor in Texas attempt to run as a ticket, when one candidates pulls well ahead of the other, he or she is tempted to jettison the boat anchor that their running mate has become. Analysts say don’t expect Leticia Van de Putte to be a drag on the Democratic ticket next year.