LGBT political action committee decides to make re-election of Sheriff Lupe Valdez its top priority in Texas on 2008 ballot
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, the nation’s largest LGBT political action committee, has made the re-election campaign of Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez its top priority in Texas in 2008, according to president and CEO Chuck Wolfe.
The Washington, D.C.-based Victory Fund, which is dedicated to increasing the number of openly LGBT elected officials at all levels of government, has endorsed six candidates in Texas this year, more than in any other state except California.
Wolfe said he believes the high number of openly gay candidates in Texas the Victory Fund has endorsed a total of 38 nationwide is due to the Democratic shift that’s taken place here in recent years.
“You’re sitting in a state that’s had its pendulum swung probably more strongly than anywhere else,” Wolfe said. “People are getting re-energized.”
For Valdez, the nation’s only openly lesbian Latina sheriff, the Victory Fund’s backing could mean tens of thousands of dollars worth of much-needed campaign contributions in what is expected to be a hotly contested race.
Victory Fund spokesman Denis Dison said the group raised more than $100,000 for the 2007 mayoral campaign of former Dallas City Councilman Ed Oakley. Oakley, who lost to Tom Leppert in a runoff, would have been the first openly gay mayor to represent any of the nation’s big cities.
In 2006, the Victory Fund spent almost $1.8 million on 88 endorsed candidates, 67 of whom won their races, Dison said.
“Victory’s endorsement brings with it a great deal of technical political advice and strategy, but obviously money is important too,” Dison said. “When we need to we are able to write a check from our political action committee but we also ask our network of individual donors to give to specific campaigns through our Web site.”
In 2004, the Victory Fund raised more than $11,000 for Valdez’s campaign, Dison said. But the group was much smaller then and in a rebuilding phase, he added.
According to the latest reports filed with the Dallas County elections office, Valdez is second behind Lowell Cannaday in fundraising among the eight candidates for sheriff thus far.
Heading into the March 4 primaries, Valdez leads the way among Democrats with $110,000, while Cannaday is tops among Republicans with $143,000.
Kirk McPike, Valdez’s campaign manager, said the Victory Fund and its members have contributed about $3,600 to her campaign to date. McPike also said the Victory Fund agreed to match the first $25,000 the sheriff raises following a campaign event last week.
McPike said he believes the sheriff’s race has been a two-person affair from the outset, with Valdez and Cannday expected to advance to the general election in November.
“I think it reflects the importance of the race to the [LGBT] community both locally and nationally that the Victory Fund would take such an active and early interest,” McPike said. “They’re going to be a very important part of our campaign and fundraising strategy.”
The other Texas candidates endorsed by the Victory Fund are Glen Maxey for Travis County tax assessor/collector, Randi Shade for Austin City Council, Brian Thompson for Texas House District 46, Steve Kirkland for 215th civil district court and Andres Pereira for 190th civil district court.
For more information, go to www.victoryfund.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 8, 2008