THE BLOG
07/11/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Political Snowbirds: The Case for Sen. Leticia Van de Putte for Texas Governor

Are the property taxes in Florida on the upswing? If so, it might begin to explain why Texas Democrats are currently staring down the barrel of two primary candidates (three if you count glory campaigner Mark Thompson) who most accurately could be described as political snowbirds.

Wikipedia defines snowbirds as Northerners who seek winter warmth somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. In the case of Former Ambassador Tom Scheiffer (really, Texas?) and The Artist Formerly Known as an Independent, Kinky Friedman (Purple Drought - one of his classic little-known hits), the two are hoping to bask in the warmth of the new Texas Democrat. Oh, and to become Governor of Texas. Do we know how to pick 'em or what?

On second thought, don't answer that.

One or both of these men have spent a little too much time in the humidor. The Texas Democrats that picked up Texas House seats, flipped a Texas Senate seat, and voted for Barack Obama are not looking to elect someone who's running for Governor as a retirement plan (try my self-employed dad's approach -- bank on the heart-attack).

And, as much as the establishment fantasizes about one or both of our milquetoast big spenders luring the disenchanted Republican vote, we can't lose sight of what happens after they become Governor. We've learned that one the hard way.

One potential candidate who has yet to decide whether or not to run has the opportunity to benefit Texan's future if elected Governor. But -- and this is where it gets different -- it's not her future. It's not even ours. It's our children's. And, incidentally, it's also her grandson's.

State Senator Leticia Van de Putte has been on the fringe of running since before local activists started lining up to work and volunteer for her. The San Antonio Current profiled her back in February talking about "Julian's Agenda," Van de Putte's future-planning proposals to make the world a better place for her grandson Julian.

She spoke of marketing "education and green-energy programs to Republicans as economic, return-on-investment ideas rather than as moral or environmental imperatives," strategies that cross partisan lines in a different way than Scheiffer's of being buddies with the former President -- those are strategies of a leader.

It's this very leadership with a conscience that Texans deserve; her mindset is not that of a divisive partisan focus or of a political high-risk investor, ready to gamble his millions on a run for the roses. Her leadership was developed through experience -- leading a minority in the Senate, serving as co-chair at the 2008 Democratic National Convention -- but a conscience requires a diverse, outward-looking perspective. Van de Putte's desire to benefit generations beyond her own reflects a life that wasn't lived promoting oneself in front of bright lights or in a board room.

A mother of six grown children, a working woman for 28 years as a pharmacist before running for office after the encouragement of her husband, and the representative of roughly 800,000 Texans as State Senator, her constituency -- the people and the life that she represents -- defines her conscience.

Political snowbirds go Democratic when the weather gets good. But we need someone who's not looking to run because the sun's finally shining on Texas Democrats. Texas needs a Governor who will see her constituents through the storms.