Thirteen months before the 2022 election, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke (D) is still mulling a challenge to Gov. Greg Abbott (R) that would draw national attention and tens of millions of Democratic fundraising dollars to the Lone Star State next year.
But another big contest is brewing a tick down the ballot, where Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a conservative reactionary, and Mike Collier, a wonky Democrat and accountant from Houston, are gearing up for the sequel to a close race three years ago. Collier, who lost to Patrick in 2018, will officially launch his campaign on Monday, six months after forming an exploratory committee that has already raised $1 million.
Patrick’s position is uniquely important. As in many other states, the Texas lieutenant governor serves as the president of the state senate. But in Texas the position is not merely ceremonial or useful for breaking ties: The lieutenant governor has the authority to appoint committee chairs and direct legislation through the body. This power essentially allows him to dictate Texas’ legislative agenda, and arguably makes the state’s second-in-command even more powerful than the governor.