Democrat Mike Collier ran against Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick in 2018. At that time, Patrick beat Collier by 5 points. He is challenging Patrick again this cycle. Over the weekend, a surprise endorsement for Collier from a top Republican official created waves in the election. Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, a Republican, said he’s backing Collier.

Frankly, up until this news, I thought that the race to watch for statewide candidates was the one for Texas Attorney General. The incumbent, Ken Paxton is facing some stiff competition from former ACLU lawyer, Democrat Rochelle Garza. Paxton is under indictment, as he has been for several years. The issue that really has Democrat voters motivated to come out and vote in this race is the Texas abortion law.

A Democrat has not won a statewide election in Texas since 1994. As the state has become more purplish due to demographics and new residents from other states, Democrats have increasingly sought to change the momentum. This time we will turn Texas blue. It hasn’t happened and I don’t think it will happen this year, either. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some close races lining up to keep things interesting. Now two top Republicans have jumped ship and endorsed Collier in the race for Lt. Governor.

Neither Republicans are running for re-election. That can’t be stated more clearly. These are endorsements of convenience. Both seem to be settling grudges against Dan Patrick. In other words, it’s politics, y’all. On their way out of office, they are making a grand gesture against Dan Patrick.

Let me say up front, I’m not a huge fan of Patrick. I never have been. But, he’s the Republican in the office and he’s a better choice than the Democrat running against him, in my opinion. The lt. governor controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the Legislative Budget Board. Having a Democrat in that position is not something a Republican in Texas wants. This isn’t the days of George W. Bush when he was the governor and bragged about working so well with the Democrat lt. governor. The political atmosphere is different now.

Remember that a county judge is not necessarily an actual judge or even an attorney. It is the county’s CEO, an elected position. Tarrant County (Fort Worth) is a reliably red area, though it has been turning a little purplish lately. You’ll notice that the county judge waited until he wasn’t going to run for re-election to endorse Patrick’s opponent. Whitley has served in that role since 2007. Why didn’t he support Collier in 2018? Patrick was first elected to the job in 2015. What changed?

Whitley said it’s because of Collier’s stance on local control and smaller government.

Polling shows Collier, a former oil executive, is within striking distance of Patrick in what could be another close matchup between the two.

“One person who I’ll support statewide that will get me in a little trouble (is) Mike Collier for lieutenant governor,” Whitley said.

“I just think he’s someone who understands local control,” Whitley said.

Collier says voters are fed up with high property taxes and the blame goes to Patrick.

“Our property tax explosion is a consequence of state fiscal policy,” Collier said.

Collier is laying the blame at the feet of Patrick and the tax giveaways to corporations shifting financial burdens to homeowners.

“They’re furious about property taxes, and they should be. And Dan Patrick continues to lie and blame locals. It is not local government’s fault, it’s failed state fiscal policy,” Collier said.

Naturally, the endorsement set off a Twitter battle between the two men.

This interview was tweeted out to get the word out by Whitely. He has several recent tweets about property taxes.

The Twitter thread reads as follows:

“Lots of talk this weekend about property taxes. Under LtGov Patrick’s leadership, property tax bills have skyrocketed. Local leaders aren’t the problem – it’s the state not paying their fair share to educate our children and pay for their public safety responsibilities.

For example, we have adults in our jails who have been sentenced to the state prison, but the state isn’t taking them. The county isn’t going to release them, obviously, so we continue to foot the bill. This is just one example.

Our local property taxes are paying for state responsibilities. And instead of partnership we get rhetoric. We need leadership in Austin. If LtGov Patrick really wanted lower taxes, the state wouldn’t have so much money sitting in its bank account – it would be in yours.”

The other Republican to jump ship on the Republican candidate is a state representative. He also isn’t running for re-election.

On Tuesday, another Texas Republican announced his support for Collier: State Sen. Kel Seliger, who has a history of feuding with Patrick, told Quorum Report he planned to vote for the Democrat in November.

Seliger, who has represented Amarillo in the Senate since 2005, is also not seeking reelection after his term ends in January.

Like I mentioned, these two endorsements look to be settling political scores as they leave office. They certainly aren’t profiles in courage. They aren’t facing Republican voters in November.

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