AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – The race for Texas Governor entered a new phase Wednesday with Democrat Lupe Valdez able to focus on her general election battle with Republican incumbent Governor Greg Abbott.
The former Dallas County Sheriff insisted she’s up for the challenge and that she’s not afraid of the hard work it will take to try to unseat the governor this fall.
But Valdez surprised political analysts during the primary runoff Tuesday night in what became a very tight race against Houston businessman Andrew White for much of the evening.
She defeated White by just 26,000 votes, even though back in March, she beat White by nearly 160,000 votes when there were nine Democrats running.
Some analysts say Valdez will have to unite the party behind first before she can focus on running a viable campaign against the popular and well-funded Abbott, who has $40 million in his campaign account.
Valdez has raised about $300,000. “We’re going to get what we need,” Valdez said. “We’re not going to have an abundance, but again, what do you get for all of that money? Somebody donates millions? What do they want in return? If you donate to me, all you’re going to get is good government.”
Matt Mackowiak, Chair of the Travis County Republican Party and Republican consultant said Valdez will need to seriously step up her fundraising efforts. “Lupe Valdez is going to need at least $20 million to be semi-credible for the election. That is a staggering amount of money given how weak her fundraising is so far.”
He said Valdez will need that money to run TV ads across the state and hire more staff to establish a ground game to get her message out to voters.
Abbott didn’t talk politics Wednesday, but his campaign has already repeatedly gone after her record, and says she’s too liberal for Texas.
Valdez though says she’s focused on everyday Texans many of whom she believes are struggling in this booming economy. “I think we’ve forgotten the priorities in Texas. The education, the healthcare, the economy that works for everyone. We’ve kind of forgotten all of those priorities. We need to get back to those priorities, and take care of the everyday Texan.”
Mackowiak though said Valdez hasn’t been effective. “Candidate strength is about do you have a vision – do you have substance, can you motivate people and she hasn’t shown she can do that.”
Democrats are hoping Valdez will attract Hispanic voters all over the state, many of whom are independents, and people she will need if she wants to have a shot at this race.
But Abbott received 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2014 and his campaign wants to improve on that this time.