DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – This morning Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced that she is officially entering the race to become the next governor of the state of Texas.

Just after 6:00 a.m. the Sheriff released a statement that said, in part –

“Like so many hardworking Texans, I know it’s tough deciding between buying food, finding a decent place to live, and setting aside money for college tuition. Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but it is out of reach for far too many, that’s why I’m running for Texas Governor.”

Valdez submitted her resignation to the Sheriff’s Department Wednesday and held a lunchtime news conference at Democratic Party Headquarters in Austin where she said, “My name is Lupe Valdez. I’m a proud Texas Democrat and I believe in common sense government, that’s why I’m running for Texas governor. I’ve dedicated my life to defending Texas and I’m not done yet.”

When CBS 11 News reporter Jack Fink asked Valdez why a person with both a federal and state pension wouldn’t retire but choose to face-off against a dominate Republican candidate she said, “This is about the common, everyday Texan who needs to have a voice and we’re about to give them a voice.”

Since Valdez resigned today, December 6, Dallas County Commissioners will appoint a temporary sheriff. Democrats and Republicans who want to run to complete the rest of Sheriff Valdez’ term, which is 2020, will have until late next week to file their paperwork. The candidates will then take part in primary elections for both parties and then the general election will be held in November.

Sheriff Valdez said she would officially notify the Commissioners Court today of her decision to resign, so they can start their process of choosing her replacement.

Sheriff Valdez took office in 2005 and won her fourth term last year with more than 58-percent of the vote. She is also the first openly gay, Hispanic female sheriff in the country and has given speeches at both the Texas Democratic Convention and the Democratic National Convention.

“Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state,” she said. “But for far too long hardworking Texans have been left behind, kept out and frankly attacked for who they are, where they come from and who they love.”

If Valdez wins the primary, analysts say and Democrats acknowledge the Sheriff would face an uphill battle against Republican Governor Greg Abbott who has already announced he’s running for re-election and has more than $40 million in his campaign war chest.

When asked how much money she had raised for her campaign Valdez said, “I think we’re gonna raise whatever money is necessary. I don’t believe that we need 40, 60, 90 gazillion dollars. I believe that it’s gonna take whatever’s necessary and no more… just like government.”

Valdez, who with her announcement has become the Democratic front-runner, joins six other Texans who have filed to challenge Abbott next year and there could be an eighth candidate. Andrew White, the son of late Governor Mark White, is expected to toss his hat in the ring on Thursday.

It was just last week when media outlets across North Texas reported Valdez had already submitted her resignation to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, but minutes after the “revelation” Valdez denied that any such action had happened and said she had not made any decision about entering the race.

After the apparent false start, GOP critics demanded Valdez resign immediately claiming the 70-year-old sheriff was violating state law by not relinquishing her elected position all the while knowing she would enter the race for governor.

Texas hasn’t had a Democrat in the governor’s office since 1994 — when Ann Richards was the state leader.

Before becoming sheriff Valdez was a U.S. Army captain, a U.S. Customs senior agent, and a senior agent in the Department of Homeland Security. She is one of eight children born to migrant farm workers and a graduate of Southern Nazarene University and the University of Texas at Arlington.

It will now be up to Valdez to try to rally the Democratic base in Dallas and the other large cities in Texas and the Valley, where she is not as well-known. Valdez said she recognizes that several prominent state Democrats had passed on running against Governor Abbott but said she believes she can get the votes needed to beat him.

“Texas is not a red state it’s a non-voting state,” Valdez said. “We need to let the people know that we’re here. And Texans, the common, everyday Texan needs to hear our voice and we need to hear their voice. Abbott may have the money — we’re gonna have the people.”