- Alexa-Garcia Ditta
She fought like hell for a year, facing an uphill battle from one day in her campaign for Texas lieutenant governor. But Tuesday night, as State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte took the stage to thank her supporters after losing to her Republican opponent Dan Patrick, she vowed that she wasn’t done.
Early in the night just as polls closed in El Paso, major outlets called the race for Patrick, who ultimately won the race for the Texas Legislature's most powerful position by 20 points.
Van de Putte, sporting her black Texas Senate cowboy boots and with her husband Pete by her side, thanked her “familia” Tuesday night at the historic Sunset Station in downtown SA. She applauded her children, grandchildren, supporters, donors, friends, block walkers, phone bankers and the thousands who volunteered their time on behalf of her campaign.
“Although the results didn’t go our way tonight, I’m so proud to have been that servant leader, to be up on that ballot,” she told a crowd of a few hundred local supporters. “I knew what I was going to be fighting for, I knew what the issues were about in this state and I knew the heart of the people of this state.”
Van de Putte, who ended up raising upwards of $7 million during her year-long campaign, said she looks forward to being back in the Texas Senate. She told reporters that Patrick was “gracious” when they spoke Tuesday night, and she congratulated him on a “disciplined” campaign. Patrick, who posted this victory message on Facebook and held his election night party in his hometown of Houston, was the favored winner in the race.
“Today Texas voters sent a powerful message to the rest of the country – the liberal, Washington-style agenda my opponent so proudly boasted simply has no place in Texas,” he wrote in a statement. “Tonight’s decisive victory proves they picked the wrong battleground.”
Back in San Antonio, local Democrats made stops at the party, including Congressman Lloyd Doggett and District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal. San Antonio mayoral candidate Mike Villarreal, who also made a cameo, kept his solidly Democratic Texas House after defeating Green Party candidate Paul Igmundson but plans to resign from the upcoming term to run his local campaign full-time. U.S. Rep Joaquin Castro, who was also at the party, won his race and spent weeks campaigning with Van de Putte.
“She’s a fighter, she’s a hard worker,” he said. “Her candidacy has meant a lot to big parts of Texas. We owe her a debt of gratitude for raising issues important to the state of Texas.”
As Van de Putte’s speech wound down Tuesday night, she recalled a campaign stop in Fort Worth, in what she remembered as a backyard “barrio BBQ...ya know, with 300 people.” She remembered standing on a porch, looking out over a lawn filled with supporters and families listening to a young man sing the National Anthem. She saw veterans, a young mother rocking her baby to sleep, and children.
“I knew in that moment, win or lose, that I would continue to fight for the children of state,” she said.
And then she closed her final campaign appearance the same way she closed every other stop along the way, in that powerful, familiar voice “Muchisimas gracias!” before trading hugs, kisses and tears of gratitude with her staff and supporters.
"I'm ready to get back to work," she told the Current.
If one thing is clear after this campaign, Van de Putte’s not going anywhere.