Democrat announces 2018 campaign against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

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Businessman Mike Collier, who ran as a Democrat in 2014 for Texas comptroller, announced Thursday he will challenge Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in next year’s race.

Collier, a Houstonian and retired accountant, stepped down from his position as Texas Democratic Party’s finance chair Thursday to face conservative Patrick, who announced in January his campaign for reelection in 2018. Collier was the party’s finance chair since 2015.

“We need a (lieutenant governor) that brings Texans together, not an ideologue that chases headlines and drives us apart,” Collier said in a statement Thursday.

Patrick took office in 2015, and this year he is pushing a state “bathroom bill” which would prevent transgender individuals from using the restroom corresponding with their gender identity in public spaces.

“Dan Patrick has proven he is unworthy of leading this great state,” Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, said in a statement Thursday. “I am proud to see a courageous Texan like Mike Collier put his name forward to serve.”

Patrick has already raised $13.6 million in his war chest for his campaign, but Patrick’s chief strategist Allen Blakemore said the lieutenant governor is busy with the current legislative session.

“After the session, he will (give) his attention to reelection,” Blakemore said in a statement in a Texas Tribune article. “I am supremely confident that the (lieutenant governor) will be reelected by a sizable margin and be back for another four years to keep Texas the very best place to live, work and raise a family.”

In the 2014 comptroller’s race, Collier lost by more than 20 points to Republican Glenn Hegar, who at the time was a state senator and raised about 200 times the campaign funds compared to Collier, according to the Tribune. During a debate, Collier accused Hegar of wanting to abolish property taxes, which Hegar said was never his intention.

“What Sen. Hegar’s been campaigning on is not to fix the property tax system, his strong preference expressed in the primary is to get rid of the property tax system — which would triple our sales tax,” Collier said.

Collier said November’s presidential election, when Texas saw a closer margin than in previous years, does not significantly influence his campaign concerning party lines.

“I’m going to run against my opponent,” Collier told the Tribune on Thursday. “My focus has been on the state of Texas.”

Rumors started circulating this past year that Patrick would challenge Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in his gubernatorial reelection, but Patrick dismissed them in January, saying he would support Abbott if he runs for reelection.

“Let me put this to bed once and for all, I’m not running against Greg Abbott, not in ‘18, not ever,” Patrick said in a January news conference. “Put it in cement: I’m not running against Greg Abbott. All of that has been nothing more than someone’s pipe dream, some speculation based on no facts.”

Both parties for most major statewide offices will have their primary elections in March 2018.