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Democrat Mike Collier launches campaign for Texas lieutenant governor

Democrat Mike Collier launches campaign for Texas lieutenant governor

Texas Democrat Mike Collier on Tuesday launched his 2022 campaign for lieutenant governor, setting up a rematch from his 2018 race against incumbent Republican Dan Patrick. 

Collier, who worked in the energy sector and was a top adviser to President BidenJoe BidenFour members of Sikh community among victims in Indianapolis shooting Overnight Health: NIH reverses Trump's ban on fetal tissue research | Biden investing .7B to fight virus variants | CDC panel to meet again Friday on J&J On The Money: Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats | Justice Dept. sues Trump ally Roger Stone for unpaid taxes MORE’s campaign in Texas, came within 5 points of unseating Patrick three years ago.

Collier told The Hill he wants another shot at the lieutenant governorship to try to hold his old opponent accountable.

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“This is all about holding him accountable for some very serious failures. And the Lieutenant Governor's the arguably the most powerful position in Texas. And we've had some colossal failures,” Collier said.

The candidate cited the state's lack of preparedness for severe winter weather that killed more than 100 people and the response to the coronavirus. 

“To hold these guys accountable, you have to run against them. And that was my reason for running in ‘18 and we got within 5 points,” he said.

Collier said he’s confident he has a shot at statewide victory this year due to slow Democratic gains in the Lone Star State as well as criticism from some Texans of the state government. 

Detractors have accused Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Patrick of not taking the pandemic seriously enough and for lack of preparedness for the cold snap that cut off power and water to millions of residents. 

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Patrick clashed with Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health: NIH reverses Trump's ban on fetal tissue research | Biden investing .7B to fight virus variants | CDC panel to meet again Friday on J&J Fox News's Bret Baier posts vaccination selfie The Hill's 12:30 Report: Nearly half of U.S. adults partially or fully vaccinated MORE, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, as Texas’s coronavirus cases rose.

The current lieutenant governor was a proponent of Abbott’s controversial decision to lift all Texas restrictions meant to combat the spread of the illness.

Abbott was also closely scrutinized over his remarks following the winter weather crisis, and Democrats are expected to hit Patrick with those criticisms as well. 

Collier says he’ll highlight his experience in the energy sector to convince voters that he would better be able to handle a similar crisis.

“When it's time to get out on the campaign trail and talk about competence, wouldn't it be great to have a businessman who solves problems for a living in that role?” Collier said.

“I think it'll feature very largely in the campaign, even if it wasn't for the grid collapse, energy would be a big part of the campaign and now with the grid collapse it's that much more important,” he added.

Collier also hinted he’ll campaign closely to Biden, advocating to voters that he’d have the ear of the president.

“There are plenty of issues that are on Joe Biden's plate that are very important to us in Texas. And the lieutenant governor in Texas can have a lot to do to help make sure we get those policies right,” he said. “And so a constructive relationship with a successful administration will be fabulous for the state of Texas. So that will be very much part of my aspiration as lieutenant governor.”

But in order to be able to curry favor with Biden on behalf of Texans, Collier will have to have to do what Democrats in recent cycles have struggled to in past competitive races: win statewide.

Texas has been Democrats’ white whale for several consecutive cycles now.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) came close in 2018 to unseating Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzUS has seen 45 mass shootings in the past month The Hill's 12:30 Report: Nearly half of U.S. adults partially or fully vaccinated Cruz no longer wearing mask in Capitol MORE (R-Texas), falling short by under 3 points. And Democrats were high on Biden’s chances of flipping the state only to see him lose by about 5.5 points while then-President TrumpDonald TrumpFreedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's new free speech site to ban certain curse words Secret Facebook groups of special operations officers include racist comments, QAnon posts: report MORE made unexpected gains in south Texas. 

Collier said he recognizes that he’ll have to over-perform other Democrats in rural Texas to win his race, but expressed optimism over the party’s slow progress in the state. Biden’s margin was over 3 points smaller than Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' MORE’s loss there in 2016, and Collier believes the same dynamics that helped shrink that gap will aid him as well.

“So Joe Biden came within five and a half points. That was a 3-point improvement of the previous presidential candidate, and that contest was a 3 percentage point improvement from the one before that,” he said. “So that is just confirms what I know from my campaigning and all the polling, which is that Texas is evolving in a way that's very favorable to Democrats.”