Grace Garcia, a powerful supporter of women political candidates, died Monday in a car crash outside Dallas at age 59. Garcia was instrumental in founding the National Latina Political Action Committee (PODER PAC) and advocated for abortion rights as executive director of Annie’s List, an organization that supports pro-choice, Democratic women candidates for state office in Texas.
Annie’s List board chair Amber Anderson Mostyn said in a statement:
Grace Garcia was the passionate, tough, visionary leader we needed at Annie’s List. The best possible tribute to her life is to continue the work Grace started on behalf of Annie’s List and women across Texas.
Prior to joining Annie’s List, Garcia served as a top aide to President Bill Clinton, working from the start of his presidential campaign to his last day in office. An integral part of the Clinton administration’s staff, Garcia was once introduced as “Amazing Grace” by the president, according to former chair of the Bexar County Democratic Party, Choco Gonzales Meza. After founding PODER PAC, a fundraising committee for Latina political candidates, Garcia joined the White House staff once again as a senior adviser to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Garcia returned to her home state of Texas last year to lead Annie’s List, a political action committee named in honor of Dr. Annie Webb Blanton, the first woman elected to statewide office in Texas. Essentially a regional version of EMILY’s List, the Texas PAC supports pro-choice women candidates for state office. In the last decade, it has helped to elect or re-elect 22 women candidates to office in Texas.
Garcia was also personally involved in the campaigns of several women politicians, including her childhood friend and Texas state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, who credits Garcia with convincing her to run for lieutenant governor. State Sen. Wendy Davis also acknowledged Garcia’s contributions to her own current gubernatorial campaign and to Texas politics as a whole. Garcia was en route to an event featuring Davis and Van de Putte when the car accident occurred.
“[Garcia] was a fierce warrior for Texas women and equality,” Van de Putte said in a statement. “Texas has lost a giant.”
Photo courtesy of Annie’s List website.
Emily Shugerman is a politics major at Occidental College and an intern at Ms. Follow her on Twitter.