Taking issue: Collier criticizes Patrick, stumps to local Democrats

By David Talley | Published Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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CAMPAIGNING – Mike Collier, who plans to run against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, speaks to the Wise County Democrats Monday. Messenger photo by David Talley

Mike Collier is no stranger to challenging red state Republicans.

After losing by 20 percent of the vote to Glenn Hegar in the 2014 race for Texas Comptroller, Collier, running again as a Democrat, will take on incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in 2018.

The former accountant and Houston businessman stumped for a group of Wise County Democrats at the Decatur Visitor Center Monday where he accused Patrick of pandering to the most conservative side of his party, rather than working across the aisle.

“All right, Dan, you can take the hard right,” Collier said, addressing Patrick as though he were in the building. “I’ll take the rest of Texas.”

And while he acknowledged taking on Patrick in a traditionally conservative state will be an uphill battle, it’s worth it, he said, to rid Texans of “the worst lieutenant governor in the history of Texas.”

Collier stressed Patrick’s stance on public education as a determining factor in that designation. It was Texas Republicans’ general disregard for public education that drove Collier to become active in politics in 2011, he said. The state cut $5.4 billion from its education budget that year, resulting in school districts eliminating more than 10,000 teaching positions, according to the Texas Tribune.

“We’ve made ourselves clear,” Collier said. “We want excellent public schools. Has [Patrick] done a thing to address this issue? No.

“Our students coming out of public schools place 47th out of 50 states in terms of SAT scores. We’re spending billions of dollars on a system that isn’t working, and we have told him we want excellent public schools and he has not addressed it. He’s refused to address the issue. He talks about vouchers, which is not the solution.”

Collier continued to hit Patrick over several other issues, including property tax reform, healthcare, transportation, debt and maternal mortality rates. A 2016 Texas Tribune report highlighted recent increases in Texas mothers dying after giving birth, but Patrick, who presides over the senate, didn’t list the issue among his priorities for the 2017 legislative session. Members of the Texas House Freedom Caucus recently sank two bills aimed at curbing the deaths.

“We have very, very real issues. Dan Patrick refuses to work on any of them. What does he work on instead? Bathrooms,” Collier said, referencing Patrick’s steadfast support for a bill requiring individuals to use the public bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate.

The bill has drawn criticism from both parties and state business leaders.

Collier finished by taking questions on education, standardized testing, gerrymandering, legislative loopholes and bringing businesses to the state, which he claimed to have working knowledge of due to his previous career at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

“I worked for some of the largest companies who invested in Texas,” he said. “Never once did property tax get discussed. We don’t have to bribe them to come here.”

Collier also sought to dispel misconceptions about Democrats Texans may have.

“We are not baby-slaughtering atheists,” he said. “We are here to solve problems.”

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