Matthew Dowd, political strategist for former President George W. Bush, has announced he’ll challenge incumbent Dan Patrick for Texas lieutenant governor in 2022. Dowd announced his candidacy Wednesday in a two-and-a-half-minute video in which he called Patrick’s legislative focus on so-called culture war issues like abortion and transgender rights “craven and cruel.”
Dowd, a former political analyst for ABC News, is running on a Democratic ticket that so far has no gubernatorial candidate. Beto O’Rourke, whom many in Texas see as the only viable Democratic candidate to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, has only mentioned interest in the role but hasn’t committed to running.
Listen to the interview with Dowd above or read the transcript below to learn more about why Dowd is running now, and how he would revamp the role of lieutenant governor.
This interview has been edited lightly for clarity.
Texas Standard: As a longtime political insider, why are you running now for lieutenant governor?
Matthew Dowd: As I’ve watched unfold over the last few years, I’ve become increasingly concerned and shown the need that we need to make drastic change with what happened with Donald Trump over those four years, and then really in the aftermath of Jan. 6  and the insurrection and the GOP’s response to that, combined with what I thought was the worst legislative session in Texas history with what the GOP did, not only in the regular session and but the special session. So I’ve been asking myself, as many of your listeners do: what can we do? How can we improve the state? What can we do that has a leadership that’s for all Texans? And I pondered it and I thought, you know, one of the things I could do that I’ve never done before is to run and prosecute the case against Dan Patrick, who, of all of the leaders in the state, in my view, is the most craven and cruel of them all for everything that he’s pushed. And so I decided to do that. I helped elect the last Democrat, that won lieutenant governor, Bob Bullock. And I’m going to spend the next 405 days telling the truth about Dan Patrick, and he’s probably not going to like it.
How would your approach differ from Patrick’s?
The first thing I would do is bring public service to the office of lieutenant governor and basically make policy based on facts and the truth. … The second thing I would do is roll back all of this awful stuff that the majority of Texans don’t want: the permitless carry bill; the decimation of Roe vs. Wade; we didn’t do anything to fix the grid, so I would go out of my way to do that. I would actually rebuild the state Senate, which I think has been completely broken. It’s run by “Dictator Dan,” and I would rebuild it. So, it’s a collaborative body, and anybody that wants to use truth and facts to base on policy and has the interest of all Texans in mind, I have an open door and we’ll listen to [them]. But if you’re going to be a partisan, just like Bob Bullock used to say: “leave your partisanship at the door.” If you’re one of that, then you’re going to have a tough time working with me in that, if that’s your goal. So the initial thing: What I’d do is bring integrity back to the office and roll back all the awful stuff.
A lot of folks remember you as former strategist for George W. Bush. So why run as a Democrat?
I don’t think the Republican Party, and especially the leadership here in Texas, is a pro-democracy party. So being a Republican today means you enable that as a leader or as a person in that. Not to say they are not good Republicans out there who are looking for a different brand of leadership, and I welcome their votes in the general election if I’m the nominee. [But] I think at this point in time, my view is, and it’s just from how I’m connected back in the ’80s and ’90s when I worked for Democrats – Democrats, right now, we’re the only ones, I think, that can fix the problem that exists today. Independents can’t in office, and the Republicans definitely won’t. So, to me, Democrats are the only path, and that’s why I’m doing it.
There’s another Democrat in the race for lieutenant governor: Mike Collier. He did extremely well against Lt. Gov. Patrick in 2018. Why do you think you could do better?
He ran and in 2018 and lost; he ran in 2014 for comptroller and lost. I’m not going to attack Mike at all. I’m not going to go negative on Mike at all. My focus is on Dan Patrick and why we want to remove Dan Patrick. So that’s going to be my 100% focus is what’s the problems that have been created by Dan Patrick and how he’s embarrassed our state. And so, Mike, is, I welcome to do whatever he wants to do. I’m running against Dan Patrick.