Two weeks after losing her bid for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte announced Wednesday night that she would run for mayor of San Antonio and would not finish her Senate term.
“I’m running for mayor. I’m coming home,” Van de Putte said in an interview with KSAT-TV. “My decision to run for mayor had to do with how I can serve the people the best.”
On Thursday, she is expected to send a letter to Gov. Rick Perry declaring her intent to resign, giving Perry the ability to call a special election. To ensure Democrats don’t have one less Senate member when the legislative session begins on Jan. 13, Van de Putte intends to only vacate her seat once the special election’s winner is sworn in.
Republican Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick, who handily defeated Van de Putte this month, could try to remove the chamber’s requirement that a two-thirds majority agree to bring legislation to the floor. Democrats currently hold 11 seats in the 31-member body. If Van de Putte vacates her seat before it is filled, the Democrats would be unable to block legislation if all members voted on party lines.
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In the mayoral race, Van de Putte will face state Rep. Mike Villarreal, who announced his candidacy in May after Julián Castro left the office to become U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Van de Putte and Villarreal are both longtime members of the Texas Legislature who have been politically intertwined since Van de Putte set her eyes on moving to the Senate after nine years as a state representative. That’s when Villarreal succeeded her in that House seat, though she backed his opponent in the race.
Van de Putte’s entry into the mayoral race has been rumored for some time. She was previously mentioned as a possible candidate for the mayor’s office. Though she quickly sought to quiet those rumors at the time, speculation about her future political ambitions resurfaced last week.
In an interview last week, Villarreal said he was expecting to pick up an opponent in the race.
“We knew this wouldn’t be a cakewalk. Running to be mayor of the seventh-largest city in the country is not a coronation, and it shouldn’t be,” Villarreal said, adding that Van de Putte reached out to him earlier this month before publicly acknowledging that she was being mentioned as a potential candidate for mayor.
With Villarreal also resigning his seat in the next legislative session, San Antonio will see two special elections to fill both of their posts. State Reps. Trey Martinez Fischer and José Menéndez both expressed interest last week in pursuing Van de Putte’s Senate seat if she were to step down. San Antonio City Councilman Diego Bernal and public relations consultant Melissa Aguillon have both set their sights on Villarreal’s seat.