Lupe Valdez, left, Lorie Burch, right

Valdez receives endorsements; Burch stays focused on issues

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer
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The Texas Equity PAC has endorsed Lupe Valdez in the Democratic gubernatorial runoff set for May 22. The PAC is the political action committee of Equality Texas.

“We have an opportunity to create a state that reflects our values and priorities,” said Chuck Smith, the PAC’s CEO.

“We must come together and fight for the state we want. Now is the time to act with our vote. It is our civil right and our civic duty. We cannot sit this out.”

Other LGBT organizations in Texas that have endorsed Dallas’ former sheriff in her bid for governor include Victory Fund and Stonewall Democrat chapters in Austin, Dallas, Denton, Houston and San Antonio.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Texas Equity PAC,” Valdez said in a written statement. “My candidacy is in no small part thanks to them and Equality Texas leading efforts in our state to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. With their support, I not only hope to inspire others to break new ground as the first governor of Texas from the LGBTQ community, but I will tirelessly work for a Texas that treats everyone equally, with dignity and respect.”

Despite twice as many votes cast in the Democratic primary this year compared to 2014 when Wendy Davis secured the nomination, 50 percent more votes were cast by Republicans in their primary this year compared to Democrats. While many Democrats vying in local races stand a good chance of election, a statewide win will take plenty of work.

Congressional District 3
Lorie Burch received 49.6 percent of the vote in a four-way race for U.S. Rep. District 3 centered in Plano. That put her in a runoff with Sam Johnson, who received 28.6 percent of the vote. Johnson is not related to retiring Rep. Sam Johnson, who has represented that district since 1991.

Despite leading in the primary by more than 6,500 votes, Burch isn’t taking anything for granted. If she wins the primary, her opponent in the fall will be Van Taylor. He received more votes in his primary than the four Democrats put together.

Burch said that in Collin County, a number of people traditionally vote in the Republican primary, because that’s where elections have been mostly settled.

Because she was so close to an outright win, Burch said she’s going into the runoff quite confident. But that doesn’t mean she is taking it easy. She’s been busy block-walking and attending meet-the-candidate events. She’s also been scheduling meetings at taco joints in her district for a series of events she calls “Taco ’Bout Change.”

Burch and Johnson are both scheduled to attend an event, sponsored by the North Texas Jewish Democratic Council, along with Lillian Salerno and Collin Allred, who are vying for the Democratic nomination to face Pete Sessions in the race for U.S. House District 32. The event is set for 6-9p.m. at Walnut Hill Recreation Center, 10011 Midway Road. Everyone is welcome.

Both Burch and Johnson are scheduled to attend the Democratic Club at Heritage Ranch on April 18, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Heritage Ranch clubhouse West Ballroom in Fairview.

Burch said her opponent’s supporters have been claiming that Collin County won’t elect a gay woman. She said she finds that tactic disappointing and points out that in the primary she was the only Democratic candidate who spoke at Prestonwood Baptist Church and got votes and supporters out of her appearance.

“I feel very good about having support from all different walks,” Burch said. But, she noted, in the primary she proved she was the best at getting out the base.

Other LGBT candidates
In other races with LGBT candidates, Jessica Gonzalez won her primary against incumbent Roberto Alonzo and faces no Republican opposition in November. She will be the new state representative for House District 104.

State representative candidate Julie Johnson and state senate candidate Mark Phariss won their Democratic primaries outright and will face off against Republican opponents in November. State representative candidate Finn Jones had no primary opposition, but he does have a Republican opponent in the general election.

In the state House District 115, Johnson has made public education a priority in her campaign. Her opponent, incumbent Republican Matt Rinaldi who authored the House version of the bathroom bill, hasn’t supported adequate funding for education during his time in office. Johnson has the backing of many educators in her northwest Dallas County district.

“Texas teachers are feeling the squeeze due to a lack of state funding for public education,” Johnson posted on her campaign page this week. In response to walkouts by teachers in other states, she said Texas teachers earned about $6,500 below the national average for teacher pay in 2016 and in 10 years, state funding for public education went from 48.5 percent of the cost down to 38 percent by 2019. In state House District 94, Jones faces “family values” incumbent state Rep. Tony Tinderholt who’s been married five times. Phariss squares off against Angela Paxton in November for state senator for District 8. Paxton is the wife of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

While her primary against Philip Huffines turned personally nasty, Phariss said he gets along just fine with Paxton and hopes the race in the fall remains cordial. His campaign strategy is to stick to the issues.