Grace Garcia, the executive director for the Texas Democratic women’s group Annie’s List, died in a car accident near Waxahachie on Monday.
Some say the San Antonio native is responsible for Bill Clinton’s presidential career and she is more recently credited with convincing state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte to run for lieutenant governor.
Garcia grew up in San Antonio and after college she became a top aide to Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, where she came to work alongside longtime Texas political advisor Harold Cook, who described his interactions with Garcia 22 years ago:
“I was absolutely terrified of her," Cook said. "She was driven, she was focused, she would work herself to exhaustion. I’m not convinced that Bill Clinton wouldn’t have become president without the efforts of Grace Garcia.”
Garcia also served as one of the top aides to Hillary Clinton during her time as secretary of state for the Obama administration.
Garcia’s grandmother lived on Craig Avenue in San Antonio, just across the street from Van De Putte’s grandmother. The two were very close growing up.
“Some of my earliest memories are playing jacks on the sidewalk in front of her grandmothers house," Van De Putte said.
The two attended the same schools, growing up inside the same neighborhoods. That relationship continued on into adulthood, and it was Garcia that solely convinced Van De Putte to run for statewide office.
Speaking at the Annie's List April 24 luncheon in Austin, Van De Putte said:
“About six months ago I was at an Annie’s List event and my longtime friend, Grace Garcia asked me publicly, asked me publicly to run for lieutenant governor.”
Van De Putte said without her friend's quiet confidence that she could win the 2014 lieutenant governor's race, she would've never considered running.
Garcia and an Annie’s List staffer were on their way to event featuring Van De Putte and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis when the car they were driving was hit by an 18-wheeler near Waxahachie.
“And I can tell you it was one of the hardest calls I’ve ever had to make to her brother to tell him that we have lost our Grace,” Van De Putte said.