07/30/18

Race to Raise: Patrick vs. Collier

Texas’ Lieutenant Governor is not only in charge of the state should the Governor be unavailable, but also leads the State Senate, making the Lt. Governor an extremely powerful officeholder. Current Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, well-loved by Texas conservatives, handily beat his Republican primary challenger, Scott Milder, 76.07% to 23.93%.

Yet instead of operating under a theme of party unity, Midler has now endorsed Patrick’s Democrat challenger for the November general election, Mike Collier. Milder’s reasoning? He claims Patrick is too extreme for Texas.

Collier is an accountant, owns an oil and gas business, and resides in Houston. Much like Midler’s failed campaign against the Lt. Governor, Collier is attempting to sway voters by reminding them of Patrick’s controversial support for the “Bathroom Bill” or “Texas Privacy Act,” (depending on which side voters are on) and trying to tap into anger surrounding Texas’ struggling public schools.

Here’s a quick look at the numbers:

Texas Lieutenant Governor – By The Numbers
Dan Patrick (I)   Mike Collier 
Total Money Raised $8,382,588.65 $355,595.82
Total Number of Donations 1,280  2,893
Average Donation Amount $6,548.90 $122.91
Total Expenditures $11,709,273.30 $629,100.13
Total Votes (in Primary) 1,172,830 504,220
Cost Per Vote $9.98 $1.24

The contest for Lt. Governor is sure to be closely watched as we head into November, but not because the race will be close. To say Collier’s chances of beating Patrick are slim is overly generous, as is the case for virtually all statewide Democrats looking to unseat Republicans. The real reason many political insiders will elevate this race is Patrick’s unwillingness to play the usual inside-Austin political games. Rather, Patrick pushes conservative agenda items the Austin lobby would prefer to ignore. A weakened Lt. Governor —  should he win by a narrower margin than other statewide Republicans — might be less willing to give Austin politicos the cold shoulder.

Key Takeaways from the Lieutenant Governor Race:

  1. Small Donors in a Big Race.
    While Patrick has raised exponentially more dollars than Collier, Collier landed more than twice the amount of individual donors than Patrick. Additionally, Collier had an impressive 2,522 small-dollar donors – individuals contributing $100 or less to his campaign – compared to Dan Patrick’s 385 small-dollar donors. In this cycle, when no one expects a Texas statewide office to turn from red to blue, this large difference can be explained by only one reason: Given Patrick’s large war chest and all of the major political players lining up behind Patrick, his camp simply didn’t need to put much effort into netting small donors. Still, Collier’s number of individual donations is impressive.
  2. Texas Teachers’ Union Hires Self-Avowed Liberal Consultant.
    During the primaries, a “block vote” effort was attempted by Texas American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to convince everyday classroom teachers to oppose conservative candidates. Now, that effort has spilled over to the November election. While a majority of classroom teachers reside in conservative, rural areas across the state, their lobby union – who collects “dues” through automatic payroll deductions of public school employees – has spent close to $40,000 contracting with InFocus Campaigns, LLC. In fact, this consulting company, who boasts on their website, “dedicated to service for Democratic, progressive and non-partisan clients,” is Texas AFT’s number one payee for the 2018 cycle. Also noteworthy: Campaign finance records show Texas AFT didn’t just use this liberal company (who will represent anyone other than a conservative) in the lead up to November, but also when they were choosing sides in Republican primaries.
  3. Donating Against One’s Own Interests?
    Collier’s largest contributor, W. Austin Ligon, a venture capitalist out of Austin, donated $30,000. Despite his profession, Ligon donates heavily to Democrat organizations which typically advocate against capitalism, contributing $25,000 to Battleground Texas, and $30,000 to ACTBlue Texas.

Before you go

Who knew the Texas Dental Association (TDA) had so much cash? In December, the Texas Dental Association contributed $50,000 to Patrick. Interestingly, the group had also donated $10,000 to Patrick’s counterpart and political nemesis, Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus in September, one month before Straus announced he was not seeking re-election. Perhaps the TDA’s generosity with Patrick was an attempt to get back on the powerful politician’s good side.

 

Our Race to Raise series takes a deeper look at the most high-profile races of the election cycle, focusing specifically on money raised by those seeking to serve in public office. Stay tuned for the next installment.

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