Elections 2022Field of Challengers to Lt. Governor Patrick Forms on the Final Day of Campaign Filing

In the coming year, there could be a rematch between Dan Patrick and the Democrat who almost defeated him in 2018.
December 13, 2021
Anyone seeking to challenge Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who has positioned himself as a conservative firebrand, has a long and expensive road ahead.

However, at least eight candidates have filed to run for lieutenant governor, who also serves as the president of the Texas Senate.

The Democratic field whittled down to two candidates last week after Matthew Dowd, a former Republican strategist and ABC News contributor, dropped out of the race because, as a white, Christian male, he feared inhibiting the party’s diversity.

Here is the latest rundown of the candidates in the race.

Dan Patrick (R)

Dan Patrick was first elected lieutenant governor in 2014 after defeating incumbent David Dewhurst in the Republican primary. Since then, Patrick has tried to position himself as the bulwark of conservative legislation in Austin.

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Patrick does not shy away from certain controversial issues and has focused on delivering victories for conservatives on hot-button cultural issues. For example, he added the Texas Heartbeat Act and a bill requiring student athletes to compete only within their biological gender on his list of legislative priorities.

This year, Patrick also challenged Gov. Greg Abbott and his counterpart in the Texas House, Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont). He publicly feuded with the speaker over the pace of legislation being passed by the Texas House.

After the winter storm in February spurred a series of reforms to the Texas power grid, he called for Abbott to terminate the chairman of the Public Utility Commission (PUC), Arthur D’Andrea, over statements the chairman made to energy industry stakeholders. D’Andrea ultimately resigned a few weeks later.

When Democratic state legislators broke quorum to kill the GOP election integrity law, Patrick made clear to Abbott and Phelan that he supported lowering the requirement for a quorum to a simple majority — a policy change he has similarly used in the upper chamber.

According to Texas Ethics Commission records, Patrick had raised $5,575,295 through the third special session, which lasted from September 20 to October 19. $549,440 of that total was contributed during the third special session.

Trayce Bradford (R)

Bradford is a former president of the Texas Eagle Forum and is currently the Eagle Forum National Issues Chair on human trafficking.

She is opposed to the concept of the government choosing “essential businesses,” which Abbott did while implementing shutdowns last year, and has criticized the state legislature’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its failure to curtail the governor’s emergency powers.

“One would hope that in Texas, our legislature would be more sympathetic towards small businesses,” Bradford told voters in Bowie County this week, according to the Texarkana Gazette.

Bradford places emphasis on human trafficking in her platform, calling it “modern slavery” and saying that “prosecuting traffickers is paramount.”

Daniel Miller (R)

Miller is the president of the Texas Nationalist Movement, which calls for Texas leaving the United States by passing a statewide referendum.

He told The Texan last month, “If you don’t want the federal government trampling on your rights and encroaching on the sovereignty of a state or trampling over its right of local government, then you have to eliminate the federal government from the equation.”

In support of his proposition, Miller cites other examples of “disannexation,” such as the African country of South Sudan separating from Sudan.

Texas disannexation is his chief platform point, dwarfing all others.

Aaron Sorrells (R)

Sorrells is a small business owner from Keller who touts conservative positions on the issues. He supports completing the border wall, abolishing property taxes, and “eliminating unsecure electronic voting systems.”

On the subject of state sovereignty, his campaign website reads, “Federal interference in the Texan way of life should be resisted in every possible way.”

Unlike Miller, he does not take a position on Texas secession.

Sorrells’ campaign criticizes Patrick and says he “will bring transparency and accountability back to the Texas Senate by forcing floor votes on all conservative legislation.”

“While Patrick pretends to be a conservative, his ‘principled conservativism’ [sic] consists of making backroom deals in the interests of his donors to kill important conservative legislative priorities in committee and to prevent the ‘country club’ known as the Texas Senate from being accountable to the people who elected them,” his campaign website reads.

Sorrells supports a “full audit” of Child Protective Services (CPS) and Texas’ family court system. He also supports prohibiting gender modification surgeries on children.

Todd Bullis (R)

Bullis’ campaign website states that he hopes to “bring a Biblical Worldview back to Texas.” He refers to public schools as “public indoctrination centers” and supports eliminating school taxes.

“Schooling needs to be done by private schools, parents, family, and Churches of your choosing, without regulation by the federal or state government,” his campaign website reads.

Bullis also touts the importance of religious freedom and the abolition of taxpayer-funded lobbying.

Zach Vance (R)

In a statement tweeted on Thursday, Vance pitched himself as a middle-of-the-road candidate who believes both Republicans and Democrats care about Texas and our country.

“From this point forward, it is my mission to rise [sic] Texas above the fight between the left and the right. No longer will it be liberal vs conservative, blue vs red anymore… that is not the real fight!” Vance wrote.

“The real fight now will be the one between the extreme vs the normal, hate vs love and acceptance, people who worry and care about made up issues vs the people who care about real problems and solving those problems.”

Mike Collier (D)

Mike Collier is a businessman and auditor who came close to unseating Patrick in 2018 and is aiming for a rematch with the lieutenant governor in 2022.

In 2018, Patrick was reelected with 51 percent of the vote as opposed to Collier’s 47 percent. The margin of victory was fewer than 400,000 votes.

Collier is running on increasing funding for public schools, “fix[ing] the damn grid,” and legalizing marijuana, among other policies.

“I will put an end to the constant culture wars that have consumed our state government and pit Texan against Texan,” Collier states on his website.

Collier had raised $757,109.87 through the third special session, according to campaign finance records.

Michelle Beckley (D)

Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton) had announced a run for the 24th Congressional District, but during the redistricting process, she was drawn out of both TX-24 and the state House district she represents.

The legislature also drew TX-24 and House District 65 to be considerably more favorable to Republicans. Consequently, Beckley dropped the race for TX-24 and announced a bid for lieutenant governor instead.

One of the most liberal members of the Texas House, Beckley was on the Texas House Elections committee and sparred with her GOP colleagues over election integrity legislation. 

Beckley was one of the members who called on the U.S. Department of Justice to monitor the Texas legislature as it considered reforms to the state’s election laws. She was one of the Democrats who fled to Washington, D.C. to break quorum and prevent the passage of the Election Integrity Protection Act of 2021.

Carla Brailey (D)

Dr. Carla Brailey, who announced her candidacy on Monday, is the vice chair of the Texas Democratic Party. She is also a member of the faculty at Texas Southern University, where she teaches sociology.

In a statement she put out announcing her bid, Brailey said that her goal is “to build the largest, most inclusive grassroots campaign that the state has ever seen.”

“I couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore and watch as Dan Patrick tried to drag our state backwards. As Lieutenant Governor, Patrick hasn’t delivered for Texans. He’s more interested in hateful rhetoric, attacks on our rights, and conspiracy theories,” Brailey said.

“Texans deserve a leader that will put their interests first by building good-paying jobs, high quality education, affordable housing, and high-quality, affordable healthcare.”

Other Potential Entrants

Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), who is not running for reelection to his current seat, has openly called for an independent challenge to Dan Patrick. While he hasn’t publicly stated any interest in such a run, he has called on former Speaker Joe Straus to challenge Patrick.

The deadline for candidates to file for a place on the primary ballot is Monday, December 13.

Update: This article has been updated to include the candidacy of Carla Brailey.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."