LatinaLista — Who is Linda Chavez-Thompson?
It’s a question that has proven to be a challenge to answer for the campaign of the Latina running for the second most powerful job in the state of Texas — Lieutenant Governor.
Not because Democrat Chavez-Thompson doesn’t have an inspirational story and a strong background but because her Republican opponent, the incumbent, has refused to even acknowledge she’s in the race for his job.
Linda Chavez-Thompson, Texas candidate for Lt. Governor
In what can be considered the ultimate political slap-down, her opponent, the current Texas Lt. Governor, David Dewhurst, is barely running campaign advertisements and when he does, he makes no mention of Chavez-Thompson.
“He’s totally dismissing me as an opponent,” declared Chavez-Thompson as we sat in the back dining room of Le Madeleine restaurant, one of a French bistro chain in Dallas, Texas, not even half a mile from where the new George W. Bush Presidential Library will be built.
“Dewhurst was sitting on $3 million when the race started and why isn’t he spending?” indignantly asks the San Antonio resident. “He just doesn’t think that I can come up against him.”
Part of Dewhurst’s confidence may stem from Chavez-Thompson’s background. A high school dropout, migrant farm worker, labor union executive and an unabashed staunch Obama supporter, Chavez-Thompson is not the typical political candidate who can win in the Red Lone Star State.
In fact, her background can only be described as Horatio Alger-esque in her rise from rags to prominence.
“I won’t say I have my opponent’s experience,” explained Chavez-Thompson. “But I do have experience working with people. I have experience of bringing the issues to the forefront.”
It’s that kind of experience that Chavez-Thompson hopes to bring to a state senate dominated by Republicans, and in Chavez-Thompson’s opinion, too preoccupied debating controversial issues like Voter ID.
The Latina candidate believes the Texas Senate should instead be focusing on the finances of the state and educational issues.
Confessing she is trailing Dewhurst in the polls, Chavez-Thompson cautions not to underestimate her supporters whose voices she feels have been left out of Austin for a “long, long time.”
In a state where Latino voters comprise 25 percent of the electorate, Chavez-Thompson is looking to the Latino vote to propel her to be a voice for all Texans.
“People always ask me why I’m running and I say my message is simple: To make life a little better for everyday working Texans so they can provide for their families; provide a better education for their children; make life a little better for themselves and get more than just minimum wage jobs,” said Chavez-Thompson matter-of-factly.
This 66-year-old abuela doesn’t doubt that she can accomplish her goals.
Citing her long work record on a national level fighting successfully for workers’ rights, dignity, respect, equality and justice on the job, Chavez-Thompson can’t wait to bring the fight to her home state.
She has a list of priorities.
For one, she feels it’s disingenuous of the current Texas Governor, Rick Perry, to claim he’s brought jobs to the state when in reality, according to Chavez-Thompson, he’s brought minimum wage jobs to Texas. (It’s an assertion that was confirmed by Politifact and the Austin American Statesman.)
“Texas ranks as the number one state with minimum wage jobs,” said Chavez-Thompson. According to her, Perry entices new businesses to the state with the promise they have only to pay low wages.
It’s a proposition she contends has hurt the everyday working Texan.
“Everybody earning more only helps the Texas economy,” said Chavez-Thompson.
In addition, she feels that the Texas Senate under her opponent has only widened the division of classes in the Lone Star State.
“Texas today is more one-sided,” said Chavez-Thompson. ” The have-nots have not progressed and the have’s certainly have because of special interests and lobbyists.”
Chavez-Thompson knows her outspokenness on the issues have angered some and probably alienated others but “being real” is what this underdog candidate is all about.
“I’ve lived with animosity for 40 years,” she said. “I’ve had to prove myself over and over again and have suffered every kind of indignity because I’m a woman and a Latina but every position I ever assumed was about making life better for somebody else. I always did it for others.”
It’s a track record she hopes Texas voters allow her to continue.