Wait, perhaps the people of the U.S. are still evolving...

Wed Nov 3, 1:32 PM ET U.S. National - Reuters

DALLAS (Reuters) - Dallas County, the home to some of the biggest conservative supporters of President Bush (news - web sites), made history Tuesday night by electing an openly gay Hispanic woman as its sheriff.

Democrat Lupe Valdez, 57, pulled off one of the biggest surprises in the Texas races by defeating Republican Danny Chandler.

'Dallas is an international county,' Valdez told reporters. That is what I want to represent.'

She will be the first Democrat to serve as Dallas County sheriff in about 30 years. Valdez boasted that she has worked on law enforcement at a local, national and international level.

Valdez was an accomplished officer with U.S. Customs and other federal agencies who also served as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves. She was endorsed by the main local daily the Dallas Morning News, which saw her as the best person to clean up a scandal-tainted sheriff's department.

Her predecessor, Sheriff Jim Bowles, a Republican, cast a shadow over the department when law enforcement officials said earlier this year he was being investigated on suspicion of receiving kickbacks for contracts from a vendor for the county jail.

Valdez's opponent Chandler was a veteran of the sheriff's department and political observers said the scandal may have tainted his campaign.

'We are tickled that Dallas County voters managed to shatter at least four different stereotypes in one fell swoop,' the Dallas Morning News said in an editorial. "