At the beginning of her campaign for Lieutenant Governor, most voters connected Leticia Van de Putte with the now-legendary Wendy Davis filibuster to stop SB5 and her frustration at being ignored by the presiding chair and bravely remarking, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?"
Her courageous remark elicited deafening applause and cheers from the gallery above, which David Dewhurst labeled an "unruly mob." She refused to be silent.
Her struggle to be heard began a long time before that early summer night in Austin. She's been a determined force in Texas politics for 23 years, in both the House, from 1990-1999, and then the Senate.
She's a sixth-generation Tejana of a military family (her maiden name is San Miguel) who grew up during the dark era of segregation in San Antonio. She's raised six children and had a 30-year career as a pharmacist, alongside her husband, Pete Van de Putte.
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Best of all, she never refers to Pete with "meet my white husband." There's no Hispanic pandering or stereotyping here, no serape-wearing or tortilla-tossing, and that's what Texas Latinos really want. For Senator Van de Putte, there are no Hispanic issues that aren't Texas issues as well. We're all in this together.
She's fresh off her 16-day, 2500-mile bus tour, which motored into the scarlet red of the Texas Panhandle and behind the pine curtain of ultraconservative East Texas. It was an old-school method to allow voters in the far-off territories branded as GOP land to become familiar with her and her populist message. She talked and people listened. "I know who you are. I know where you've been. I know where you're going."
Stalwart Republican financial bundlers are crossing the political Maginot line to help her get elected, as evidenced by fundraisers hosted by GOPers in San Antonio and Austin. To understand the eagerness with which she's been embraced, you need only look to her opponents, David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick.
She's anti-wimp to Dewhurst's wishy-washiness and the voice of reason and sanity when contrasted with Dan Patrick's theatrical wackiness. Like a fire-breathing dragon after a case of Red Bulls, his rhetoric is flat-out frightening to most voters.