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Could Hispanic vote push Valdez into Texas Governor's Office?

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is running as a Democratic candidate for Texas Governor after a year of speaking out on big state issues-- particularly the controversial sanctuary cities ban. (CBS Austin)

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is running as a Democratic candidate for Texas Governor after a year of speaking out on big state issues-- particularly the controversial sanctuary cities ban. Experts says her stances on immigration and sanctuary cities could help her find support with Texas' growing number of Hispanic voters.

"Texans and businesses are begging for a return of common sense, smart investments and just plain sanity," Valdez said in a press conference Wednesday.

James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin says Valdez is the type of candidate people get excited about.

"She obviously would be the first Hispanic woman governor were she to win. That would be historic," he says. However, it's not just who she is but what she's done that could give her an edge.

"She has taken public positions in the immigration debates … particularly sanctuary cities -- SB4 the anti-sanctuary cities bill that passed the legislature and is now tied up in the courts," Henson explains.

The hotly debated sanctuary cities ban was hard fought at the state capitol during the 2017 legislative session and could be a deciding issue for voters next year. Henson says Valdez could help bring some Hispanic voters back to the Democratic party but only time will tell if that's enough.

"They have to mobilize new voters, particularly new Latino voters into the electorate, which has been a goal the Democrats have had for several cycles but haven't had much success in achieving," Henson adds.

He explains, exit polls from the 2014 gubernatorial election show Governor Greg Abbott won approximately 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas. "Democrats can't win if Republicans are winning north of 40 percent of the Latino vote," Henson says.

Despite there being enthusiasm from Democrats about Valdez's run, Henson says any Democrat will have a hard time challenging Abbott who is coming off of what many see as a successful year in office. Henson adds, Abbott's name recognition and campaign funding also give him a huge advantage.

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