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With the gubernatorial candidates already decided, the top ballot for this month’s Democratic primary runoff will be a choice between Mike Collier and Carrollton State Rep. Michelle Beckley for Lt. governor.
The winner of the May 24 race will then mount a tough November midterm challenge against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who already won the Republican primary in March. Patrick is well-funded and a Democrat hasn’t won a statewide office in Texas since 1994. Early voting runs May 16-20.
Collier and Beckley defeated Carla Brailey, the former Vice President of the Texas Democratic Party, in the March 1 primary, finish as first and second place contenders, respectively. Collier finished with around 41% of the vote, while Beckley got around 30%.
Only about 18% of registered voters voted in the primary in March this year.
What does the Lieutenant Governor do?
The lieutenant governor oversees the state’s 31-member Senate, making it the most powerful elected office in the Texas Legislative Assembly. The incumbent can dictate much of state policy by influencing which bills go forward and which are stopped.
The office of lieutenant governor can also help propel office holders to higher office. Rick Perry, one of the most well-known Texas politicians in modern history, held the position before becoming governor of Texas, launching a presidential campaign and serving as U.S. Secretary of Energy under former President Donald Trump.
If a Democrat were to win the seat, he could champion the party’s legislative priorities, which often don’t materialize in the Republican-controlled Senate, and block GOP legislation.
Who is Mike Collier?
Collier, an accountant and auditor, has never held elected office. However, he highlights his experience in statewide campaigns, including his 2018 campaign for lieutenant governor in which he came within 5 percentage points of unseating Patrick. The lieutenant governor won his seat in 2014 by 20 percentage points. Collier is the closest Democrat to defeating Patrick, who first ran for the Texas Senate in 2006.
Collier previously identified as a Republican before running for office and twice voted against former President Barack Obama. But his campaign has focused on more recent efforts to support Democratic candidates, including fundraising as the Texas Democratic Party’s finance chairman. He also puzzled for President Joe Biden in Texas in 2020.
Supporting public education is what first motivated Collier to run for office, according to his campaign, and he has experience in the Texas energy industry as a financial consultant and former CFO of Layline Petroleum. That experience in the energy sector will come in handy, said Collier’s campaign manager Ali S. Zaidi, given recent problems with the state’s power grid.
“He’s spent his whole life working in the energy industry, especially in renewables for the past two years,” Zaidi said, “…but also making sure Texas stays the energy capital of the world, while fighting climate change and ensuring that the future of energy is forged right here in the state.
Who is Michelle Beckley?
Beckley is a small business owner of the Kookaburra Bird Shop in Carrollton and served two terms as a state representative for Denton County. She narrowly flipped a Republican seat in 2018 and criticized GOP leaders and fellow Republicans while in office.
Beckley gained national attention last summer for joining a group of Democratic state lawmakers who fled to Washington, DC, in an effort to block Republican election legislation. About a month after the legislation was signed into law last fall, Beckley announced she was running for lieutenant governor to stop Republican efforts such as those limiting voting rights and access to abortion.
“I’m running for lieutenant governor because politicians put ideology ahead of the results that matter to Texans,” Beckley said last November, touting his legislative experience.
During the 2021 regular legislative session, Beckley invoices deposited attempt to address health insurance coverage, improve communication about power grid issues and voting, and repeal language in the Texas Constitution limiting marriage to a union between one man and one woman. Many of Beckley’s legislative efforts stalled in the GOP-dominated legislature. Mark Jones, a political science fellow at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, ranked her the second liberal Democrat in the Texas House in 2021 based on her voting record.
Beckley’s campaign declined to comment for this story.
How do they differ?
There is little daylight between the two candidates from a political point of view.
Both candidates said they support legalizing marijuana, expanding Medicaid in Texas, fighting climate change, stabilizing the state’s power grid, increasing funding for public schools, and protection of the right to abortion.
Necklace has specified it would increase public school funding by nearly $5 billion without raising taxes on “ordinary Texans” by closing a corporate tax loophole.
The two Democrats differ in their experience.
Collier short on his ability to beat Patrick. Zaidi said Collier’s campaign has lifted more this election cycle than in “all of 2018,” when he last campaigned against Patrick, and sees his endorsements as a sign of eligibility.
“People involved in winning the election and running the state government all believe that Mike is the best person to not only face Dan Patrick, but to serve as lieutenant governor,” Zaidi said.
Beckley said SpectrumNews1 that she thinks she is the best candidate because she knows the “viper’s nest” that the Legislative Assembly can be.
“I think Democrats have to go with what wins and what’s different from the same old same old,” she said. “Getting close just isn’t enough.”
Whoever wins in May, either candidate will have their hands full in November with Patrick, who has never lost a statewide election and is seeking his third term as lieutenant. -governor. Now a household name in Texas politics, Patrick has established himself as a lightning rod addressing issues such as the end of college tenure and crafting a Texas version of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Florida.
Patrick’s reputation may also bring general election positives for Collier and Beckley, however. “They have an opportunity there because he has his own sympathy problem,” said Kirby Goidel, a political science professor at Texas A&M University. “It might be easier to run against him than a Greg Abbott, but you need the money and the visibility to be able to champion this cause.”
According to Texas Political ProjectPatrick’s favor poll is 35% somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable and 35% somewhat favorable or very favorable.
Goidel said becoming well-known and having positive name recognition are two hurdles Beckley and Collier will have to overcome in the primary.
“I think the key is that voters are going to choose who is more eligible,” Goidel said. “If you don’t have big differences on political issues, the real question is ‘Which candidate is the friendliest? and ‘Which candidate do you think could win?’ This results in a lot of primary votes.
Who approves them?
With few political differences between them, Goidel said endorsements can help distinguish candidates from one another. Beckley was recognized by Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, a local political arm of Planned Parenthood, as the 2021 legislative champion. But Collier notably won the organization’s endorsement — a Goidel said he has the potential to help Collier beyond the second round given recent news about the likely cancellation of Roe v. Wade by the United States Supreme Court later this summer.
“If you think about public opinion, even in Texas, a lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of banning abortion and making it completely illegal in all circumstances,” Goidel said. Collier was also endorsed by various unions, Democratic and elected groups in this year’s primary:
Beckley, meanwhile, says on his site that she has already received endorsements from the Texas AFL-CIO, Texas AFT and other groups in previous elections. She has no mention for after 2020 for the lieutenant governor race.
A number of Texas newspaper editorial boards also supported this race. Collier has endorsements from many of the state’s top publications, including The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, Austin American Statesman and the Austin Chronicle.
The Texas Tribune does not have an editorial board and does not do political endorsements.
Disclosure: Mexico Center – James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Planned Parenthood, Rice University, Texas A&M University, and Texas AFT financially supported The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part through donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the journalism of the Tribune. Find a full list here.
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