There is no other state official as vocally bigoted, sexist, and inhumane as Lord Voldemort – er, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick – and trust me, that's a high bar. Patrick transferred his right-wing radio show demagoguery to the Capitol, where he served eight years as a state senator before ousting more moderate incumbent David Dewhurst from the Senate's top job in 2014. He's embraced and fed off of religious-right fearmongering, strongly endorsing the anti-trans bathroom bill, the sanctuary cities bill, barriers to abortion access, open carry, school vouchers – you name it. Patrick has without a doubt further polarized Texas politics by steadily pandering to his fringe base, more so than even Gov. Greg Abbott. And his opponents – both Republican and Democratic – are calling him out.
In the lead to take the Democratic primary is Mike Collier, former Texas Democratic Party finance chair and retired Houston accountant. Collier ran an unsuccessful campaign for state comptroller against Glenn Hegar in 2014, losing by more than 20 points. His platform proposals include raising the minimum wage and ensuring access to affordable health care, reforming school finance by restructuring the business margins tax, closing corporate loopholes, and returning to a "rational" state highway funding mechanism. Though fairly well-financed (compared to his fellow challengers), it remains an uphill battle; Patrick handily defeated former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte by nearly 20 points in 2014. Collier's opponent in the Democratic primary is lesser-known and underfinanced Michael Cooper, who is stressing education reform and living wages.
Posing a greater immediate threat to Patrick's power is Republican and Austin native Scott Milder, who has seized on the backlash Patrick faced from the fiscally conservative business community over his zealous support of the bathroom bill. While Milder isn't quite an LGBTQ supporter, he stands firm against the anti-trans legislation based on its potential to hurt the state's bottom line, a step up from the incumbent. He presents an intriguing foil to Patrick, having founded advocacy group Friends of Texas Public Schools to fight against the (Patrick-backed) push for school vouchers and privatization of public schools. While on the campaign trail, the GOP challenger isn't mincing words about his feelings for his competition: He's used such identifying terms as "bully," "fake conservative," and yes, even "jackass." Refreshing honesty from an aspiring politician.
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