Flanked by actress and political activist Eva Longoria, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, Henry R. Munoz III of Latino Victory and St. Philip’s College student Tiana Trejo, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte kicked off her two week-long "Vote Leticia" bus tour at San Pedro Park Wednesday night.
Van de Putte, a Democrat from San Antonio’s west side and longtime member of the Texas Legislature, is running for lieutenant governor against Houston Republican Dan Patrick. Her campaign will be traveling to 30 cities over the next two weeks leading up to November 4.
With early voting beginning this past Monday, Van de Putte called on the 150 or so supporters gathered at the park to encourage their family and friends to head to the polls as well.
“I don’t just want the position (of lieutenant governor),” she said. “I want the responsibility. Help me complete that process.”
Voter turnout in Texas, especially during a midterm election, is piss poor, with the Lone Star State ranking dead last in civic participation, according to the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin.
Over the last year or so, voter outreach groups like the Texas Organizing Project, Battleground Texas, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, and other local and statewide civic organizations have blanketed the state registering low-propensity voters, namely, Latinos and African Americans. According to the Secretary of State’s office, nearly nine million Texans are registered to vote in this November’s election, and more than 950,000 are in Bexar County. The next goal? Get them to turn out.
Longoria, who also appeared at the Women in the World Texas event downtown Wednesday afternoon, emphasized the critical importance of midterm elections, which admittedly aren’t always as sexy as presidential elections, but are equally important.
“We saw the power that (Latino voters) had in 2012” when Latinos turned out in record numbers to help elect President Barack Obama, she said. “We cannot elect the president and not elect the people who have to work with him.”
Longoria and Munoz, co-founders of the Latino Victory political action committee, are traveling with Van de Putte to McAllen this week as well and encouraging Latino voters in particular to turn out. According to Mi Familia Vota, there are more than 4.3 million Latino citizen of voting age in Texas and just under 3 million are registered, making up 23 percent of Texas’ registered voters.
Having attended and/or watched Van de Putte’s campaign stops over the last several months, she always ends each appearance with gusto: “Muchisimas gracias!” she tells the crowd.
Tonight’s sign-off seemed to have even more fire to it as the senator closed her rally and headed for the big light tour bus where she’ll spend the next few weeks leading up to Election Day. No matter what happens, like my esteemed predecessor Mary Tuma wrote earlier this year
, Van de Putte’s voice has and will continue to be heard.