Mike Collier, a Democrat who ran against incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in 2018, is considering another run for the position to bring his problem-solving skills to the state level.
Collier came to Tyler as a part of exploratory efforts to see if he’ll run for the Democratic nomination in 2022. According to 2018 election results, Patrick, a Republican, received 51.3 percent of the vote compared to Collier’s 46.5 percent.
“Because I came close, I decided that I would explore and I’m exploring now whether I should or shouldn’t run, but I’m going to run,” Collier told the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “My ambition is to run. My heart is in it; I have a strong desire to run, but I do need to confirm that others also agree that I should run. So it’s important that I go around the state and share my point of view as broadly and as publicly as I can.”
He said he wants to see if there’s support among Democrats for him to seek the party’s nomination. His decision to run will likely be made in the next two or three months.
“Texans want a lieutenant governor who will work on solving problems and we have a lot of problems that seem to be getting worse and worse. Public education is not properly funded in my judgment. Property taxes are going up and yet that money’s not going into schools,” Collier said. “We saw what happened with COVID and that was a disaster, where a lot of people died that didn’t need to and then the power grid goes down and people have water problems and they can’t afford a plumber. Our current Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doesn’t really work on solving problems.”
Collier said, as a businessman, he has experience solving complex problems for a living.
Regarding his 2018 finish, Collier said he came out of the first half down by a field goal, and he thinks 2022 will be a winnable race.
“Dan Patrick, in my opinion, is a very bad influence on all politics in Austin. I think he brings out the worst in the Senate because he’s so extreme and my way or the highway,” Collier said. “I also think Greg Abbott spends a lot of time protecting the state from Dan Patrick. And so, you take Dan Patrick out of the equation and put someone in who’s not hyper-partisan that in of itself changes the dynamic I think quite a lot.”
He said, if elected, he’ll look for solutions.
“The mere fact that a Democrat could win statewide in Texas would change how every politician views what Texans want. I think it’ll have a profound impact on the senators, Abbott and everybody else in a very positive way,” he said. “I hold my head very high that I’ve never held office, and I’m coming out of the business world to do this. I think that’s a real asset in terms of my campaign. I do intend to shake things up.”
He noted that the lieutenant governor is the president of the Senate and has influence in the legislature.
“Some will tell you it’s the most influential position in Austin more so even the governor. So if you come into this because you want to solve problems and make the state a better place and a more just place where it’s more fair and we’re actually dealing with things that affect people’s lives, then lieutenant governor is the job that you want,” Collier said. “What really appeals to me is being able to solve problems in a way that helps their lives.”
Collier said he’s very concerned about bills this legislative session he thinks would restrict voting, such as Senate Bill 7.
According to the Texas Tribune, SB 7 would limit extended early voting hours, prohibit drive-thru voting and make it illegal for local election officials to proactively send applications to vote by mail to voters, even if they qualify.
“It goes well beyond voter integrity in my opinion,” Collier said. “I don’t think we have a voter integrity issue; I see no evidence to show that we have a problem. But we all want voter integrity, but this goes well beyond that into voter suppression to make it harder for people to vote.”
He said there needs to be a focus on Medicaid expansion, public education solutions, hospital closings, outgrowing water resources, natural disaster responses, broadband access and high speed internet across the state and criminal justice reform in the legislature.
“We have an awful lot that the legislature is not doing, and I think it’s just so bad for our state,” he said.
Regarding public education, Collier said high stakes testing in schools needs to be “reengineered.”
“The way we test is just awful. Teach to the test is a disaster; parents don’t like it, teachers don’t like it, employers don’t like it,” he said. “There are better ways to do testing, and we’ll let the experts guide us as to what those better ways are, but the experts didn’t put this testing regime in place.”
Collier added Texas has invested much less on a per student basis compared to other states, leading to larger class sizes and inadequate teacher compensation.
“We’ve got to put more money into public education, but we can’t raise property taxes to do it because property taxes have been going up and up. But that extra money has not been finding its way into schools. And the reason for that is schools are funded by property taxes and the state, and the state has less and less money so they force homeowners and small businesses to pay more and more money,” he said. “Why does the state have less and less money? Because we keep cutting corporate taxes, and that is not just not right.”
He said schools are receiving less money while corporations are paying less in taxes.
Collier also said he disagrees with the efforts to implement constitutional carry, meaning Texas residents would not need a license to carry a handgun if the person is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a gun.
“I consider it canceling gun safety. Why do we feel we have to cancel gun safety? Which is exactly what this is nothing less than that. I think it’s pure electoral politics,” he said. “I think Texans don’t support it. I think businesses are going to be much less likely to come to the state because of this. There’s absolutely no reason for it, except some politicians are pandering to a very small base.”
Collier believes the state legislature should move in the opposite direction by strengthening background checks and adding red flag laws.