Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

About

Victoria is a political scientist that got the political nerd bug in middle school student council. Today she hangs her hat at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and engages in political wonkiness on MSNBC, NBCNews.com, and Telemundo among others. more→

Research

Victoria brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding the politics, policies and people that shape our fascinating yet frustrating political landscape. Her areas of expertise include immigration, Latinos, women, political psych, & elections.

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto
Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Recent Media

This piece originally appeared on NBCnews.com

SAN ANTONIO, TX — Working across the aisle has become increasingly rare – especially in the deep red state of Texas. Perhaps even rarer is a 100 percent Latina owned political consulting firm. But in joining forces, two Lone Star Latinas are bucking convention.

Former Democratic State Senator Leticia Van de Putte and former Republican Secretary of State Hope Andrade have founded Andrade-Van de Putte, a consulting firm that will help bridge the private sector with the public sector.

Leticia Van de Putte, a pharmacist and small business owner, served in the Texas House of Representatives for over a decade before serving in the Senate for the past 15 years. Most recently she ran for Texas Lt. Governor. While she was not successful in this bid she gained national notoriety for the first bid of a Battleground Texas ticket. Together with Wendy Davis’ gubernatorial run, Van de Putte thrust women and Latinos into the political spotlight.

Hope Andrade, sitting on the other side of the aisle from Van de Putte, served as Secretary of State under Governor Republican Rick Perry from 2008-12. She is one of the few Latinos/Latinas to hold a state level position in the history of Texas. And most recently Andrade served as a Texas Workforce Commissioner. Beyond her experience in state government Andrade is also a lifelong businesswoman who has worked in the healthcare sector among others.

In their new consulting role, Andrade and Van de Putte bring over 30 years of experience in public office and over 50 years of business experience. Both women say they are driven by a passion for entrepreneurship, the public sector, and Texas. However the strongest bond Andrade and Van de Putte share, according to them, is “Abuela (grandmother) Power.”

As she searches through a stack of bubble-wrapped frames in their new office space, Van de Putte explains that the bond to their family – especially their grandchildren – is what motivated the women to stay in San Antonio. Van de Putte underscores her point by unwrapping and holding up a framed print of a kind but strong abuela. She points to this print as the simple justification of why her and Andrade decided to forgo D.C. or a partnership with a larger multi-national consulting group and instead set up their own shop. (more…)

This article originally appeared on MSNBC.com

A mother of six could be the next lieutenant governor in Texas.

Holding elected office was the last thing on Leticia Van de Putte’s mind when the opportunity unexpectedly presented itself. She had six children—all under the age of 10—and was running two small businesses in 1990 when a state legislative seat became vacant in a heavily Hispanic, lower middle class district in the heart of San Antonio. A quirk in Texas law left it up to the party precinct chairs to select the legislator to fill the seat.

Five men were running and after interviewing all of them, Van de Putte—who was one of the precinct chairs—was unsatisfied.  Her husband nudged her to consider it. Her oldest child was more blunt: “There aren’t enough mommies there.”

Two decades later, Van de Putte, who is a pharmacist, found herself right back where she started, staring at an all-male slate. The positions being pushed by the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor left her angered and dismayed. Each one of them has pledged to end the Texas DREAM Act —a bill Van de Putte authored. They also promise to curtail what few options remain for access to abortion in Texas, to mandate the teaching of creationism in schools and to change the 17th amendment which established the direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote. More traditional pro-business policies were nowhere to be found.

Van de Putte decided to seek the lieutenant governorship. As she explained in her announcement speech: “mama’s not happy.” Van de Putte is running alongside state senator Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for Texas governor. The two women will square off against an all-male Republican ticket.  Below is an interview with Van de Putte, condensed for space and clarity.

Q:  How does a ticket with two Democratic women at the top appeal to Texas voters?

I guess we’re going to find out. I think that there is a lot of synergy but that we both happen to be females, should that be the news? We just happen to be two gals. And the state has a history of electing women—(former Democratic governor) Ann Richards, and (former Republican senator) Kay Bailey Hutchison. There was a time when all of the major cities were headed by women. There were eight mayors in the cities in the 1990s – Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Corpus Christi. They were all women and the state didn’t fall apart.

Q:  Do you consider yourself pro-choice? (more…)