The Houston Chronicle reports that State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-Bexar County), according to its sources, will run for Lieutenant Governor. Van de Putte, a stalwart Democratic senator from San Antonio who first came to fame during the Wendy Davis filibuster last June, will “announce and announcement” of her campaign in the next day or two. This will be the prelude to an official announcement on November 23rd, most likely in her native San Antonio.
Specifically during the filibuster, Van de Putte’s claim to fame came after she was absent during the opening hours as she attended her father’s funeral. After showing up in the waning hours of the procedure, she attempted to exploit her ostensible naivety on the matters to draw out the proceedings. Finally, after raising many “parliamentary inquiries,” the President of the Senate refused to call on her, clearly against the rules of the Senate. This led to 23 magic words from Van de Putte: “At what point must a female Senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?” And the rest is history, as the crowd rose to their feet and drowned out the final minutes of the session.
With Van de Putte, assuming she wins the nomination, Texas Democrats would have their first real candidate for Lieutenant Governor since the 2002 nomination of former Comptroller John Sharp. In fact, the existence of two elected politicians at the top of the Democratic ticket has not happened since the 1998 duo of Gary Mauro and John Sharp. While the rest of the ticket is pretty darn lackluster, specifically our crop for US Senate, Attorney General and Agriculture Commissioner, the flagship offices have attracted well-experience, well-qualified, well-spoken takers. Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte will make a good team on the campaign trail.
In other news, businessman Michael Fjetland has officially announced his candidacy for the US Senate, as a Democrat. He’s a bit of an oddball, bouncing all around the political arena, so to speak. Cursory research reveals that Fjetland is a longtime Republican, who ran thrice against Tom DeLay in the 22nd Congressional District (2000 and 2002 in the GOP primary, 2004 as an independent).
In the most latter race, my colleague Charles Kuffner interviewed him. While he did espouse some progressive ideas such as limiting tax breaks for the rich and finding a solution in the conflict between Israel and Palestine, he openly and solidly identified as a Republican. At some point thereafter, I guess as an opportunist, he decided to switch parties.
More quick research will reveal a shell website for an aborted campaign for Governor. He does now have a new website for the Senate campaign where, much to his credit, he explains his exodus out of the Republican Party. I’m not a big believer in nominating defectors from the other party –whether that be Fjetland or Charlie Crist– unless they have a proven record of progressive ideals; Lincoln Chafee is a good example of this.