Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

First on CNN: Texas lieutenant governor candidate gets national nod

By Leigh Ann Caldwell, CNN
updated 9:23 AM EDT, Wed April 30, 2014
  • Leticia Van de Putte is a Democrat running for lieutenant governor in Texas
  • She gets a nod from Democracy for America, which has has 38,000 members in Texas
  • Former DNC chairman Howard Dean heads the group
  • "This year we have the best opportunity in a generation to turn Texas blue," Dean says

Washington (CNN) -- Leticia Van de Putte, a Democrat running for the second-highest office in Texas, received an endorsement Wednesday that gives her campaign needed exposure and fund-raising opportunities.

Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and his organization, Democracy for America, endorsed Van de Putte for lieutenant governor of Texas in an e-mail to the group's 1 million members, including more than 38,000 in Texas.

"This year we have the best opportunity in a generation to turn Texas blue," Dean said, referring to Van de Putte and Wendy Davis, the Texas gubernatorial candidate and liberal star. "In Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, we have the right team to seize that opportunity and defeat the extreme right."

The organization endorsed Davis immediately after she announced her candidacy in October. But the group waited six months before giving Van de Putte the nod. The organization wanted to ensure that Van de Putte's campaign, with its much lower profile, was capable of winning in the reliably red state.

"We decided to back Leticia Van de Putte after running our endorsement process and seeing ... how excited our members in Texas are about a Davis-Van de Putte one-two punch and watching her put together the kind of grassroots campaign that we're confident can win in the Lone Star State," Neil Sroka with Democracy for America wrote in an e-mail.

Van de Putte welcomed the endorsement, thanking Democracy for America for its "grass-roots support."

Democrats are cautiously optimistic about their chances in Texas this year, noting that they have two top-notch candidates who could pull off an upset. While Davis has excited progressives around the country with her 13-hour filibuster last June over abortion access, Van de Putte has her own lengthy legislative record, and Democrats insist she, as a Latino, is the ideal candidate to motivate women and Latinos to vote.

Meet the woman who could turn Texas purple

Persuading Texas Democrats to vote is its own challenge. The Lone Star State, where more than one-third of the population is Hispanic, is plagued with low voter turnout. Nearly two-thirds of eligible Latino voters stayed home in 2012. And the numbers get worse in nonpresidential election years.

Van de Putte's challenger is still undetermined. Current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick are locked in a runoff contest for the Republican nomination. Both candidates are running to the right, making immigration a central component of their campaigns, which Democrats say could also help drive Latinos to the polls.

Van de Putte must raise significant amounts of money to be competitive in the vast, populous state. The latest fund-raising figures available are old -- from January -- but total a mere $290,000.

Democracy For America raised more than $50,000 for Davis in the first 24 hours after its endorsement. That's an extremely high bar to match for a Van de Putte endorsement, but obviously one her campaign hopes is reached.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:29 PM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
Their approval rating is horrendous. They rarely get along or get anything done. So here's your chance to do something about it.
Here's CNN's take on the key races in the House and the Senate this midterm year -- along with the key gubernatorial races across the country.
Voters head to the polls over the coming months to choose their candidates for November's general election. Here's a look at who votes when
updated 6:27 PM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
President Obama is vowing to act on his own due to House inaction on immigration reform But there are limits to the power of his pen.
updated 1:54 PM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
The major story line so far in 2014 is the ongoing battle that pits mainstream Republicans against tea party and anti-establishment groups.
updated 5:29 PM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
S. E. Cupp interviews Carly Fiorina about her effort to rally conservative female voters for Senate races.
Some Democrats say there may be a silver lining in the ruling: It could motivate younger women and unmarried women to show up at the polls come November.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The GOP establishment, incumbent and mainstream candidates scored big wins.
updated 3:59 PM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
This California Republican's back story is full of plot twists.
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Wed June 11, 2014
Why and how did a well-funded, powerful, conservative member of Congress lose to a political novice?
updated 3:44 PM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
President Obama's new rules aimed at dramatically limiting carbon pollution has been a policy priority of his and one that he hopes will help to shape his legacy.
updated 4:50 PM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, might not be the Republican Party's key to electoral victory as once thought.
updated 5:43 PM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
An advocacy group backed by hedge fund tycoon Tom Steyer is set to unleash a seven-state, $100 million offensive against GOP "science deniers."
Mitch McConnell mined decades of battle-hardened experience and carefully-tended relationships inside the GOP to win his primary.
updated 5:56 PM EDT, Fri May 16, 2014
Flooding the airwaves this election year are Democratic ads featuring two men not on any ballot, and not even politicians.
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Thu May 15, 2014
Taking a cue from Beyonce, House Democrats are targeting "all the single ladies" to try to win a few Republican-held seats.
A small edge right now in a key indicator of the midterm elections could lead to a big advantage for the Republicans come November.
updated 2:52 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $50 million this year through a new organization called Everytown for Gun Safety.