Leticia Van de Putte says goodbye to the Senate

After 24 years in the Capitol, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte said goodbye Tuesday, using her final floor speech to honor her colleagues and the chamber she will be leaving.

Van de Putte submitted her resignation before the session began in January, contingent on her replacement being sworn in, so she could run for mayor of San Antonio. That won’t happen until March 4, when state Rep. Jose Menéndez, D-San Antonio, takes the oath of office, but Van de Putte isn’t expected back at the Capitol after today.

“We are all so very blessed to be part of a legacy, blazed long ago, in this most deliberative body,” Van de Putte said, husband, Pete, joining her at her Senate desk.

“The Texas Senate is a place where you work hard, and you work hard to find common ground, despite the political differences. We’re a family here,” she said, identifying each senator’s strength or impact individually.

Van de Putte, a senator since 1999 after serving almost 10 years in the Texas House, was the unsuccessful 2014 Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, a race won by Dan Patrick, who recognized Van de Putte for her final speech.

“I’m not going to say goodbye because I think you’re going to be down here lobbying for your city in a very short period of time,” said Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston.

Many of the senators who spoke Tuesday praised Van De Putte’s work on behalf of military veterans, particularly as the former chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

“I’ve never seen one who cares so much about the issues, and your constituents, than you,” said Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls. “You will be missed.”

Corrected: Amount of time Van de Putte has served in the Legislature.