AUSTIN, Texas — Early voting in the March primary election starts on Monday, Feb.14. Three Democrats are running for lieutenant governor: State Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), former Vice Chair of the Texas Democratic Party Carla Brailey, Ph.D., and Mike Collier, who was the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in 2018.
State Rep. Michelle Beckley
Ashley Goudeau: First, tell our viewers why you want to be the next lieutenant governor of Texas.
State Rep. Michelle Beckley: "You know, I really am just a small business owner that got sick of the drama in Austin and wanted to go to Austin and focus on health care, fixing our grid and making it better for the people of Texas. I flipped a State House seat in 2018, beating the Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick version [in] the State House, improving my margin in 2020. The voters, you know, appreciate what I stand for and they understand what we continue on. And I am, you know, a very good Democratic candidate, and I think the values of the Democratic Party represents what I take to Austin with me. And I also have the experience that the other candidates don't have.
Goudeau: What do you believe makes you the best choice for voters over those other candidates, Mike Collier and Dr. Carla Brailey?
Rep. Beckley: "Sure. Well, you know, I am guaranteed not to be a Manchin-like or Sinema-like candidate. I have a voting record. You can go look in the Texas State House and look in the Texas Legislature and see how I voted. I voted to protect women's rights. I've carried bills to improve voting. In fact, just yesterday or this week, I contacted my office and the provision within the elections bill is making it easier for voters to vote on Election Day in Liberty County, which we worked with during the session, has already applied and they will be doing Election Day vote centers for the primary starting on Feb. 14. So I'm excited that, you know, legislation that I carried, that I made my priority, is going to help Texans. And people know what they're getting when they vote for me. I'm not just a politician that's never won an election. I've won twice. I went to Austin, I did what I said I was going to do."
Goudeau: How are you selling that message about your record to the rest of Texas? You know, Democrats have been unable to secure a statewide seat in a very, very long time. Yes, you won elections, but they've been, you know, for your House [district] and not for the entire state.
Rep. Beckley: Yeah. But I flipped the State House seat in a conservative county, in Denton County, which represents the values of the entire state. I'm a proven winner, and so therefore I have traveled to the Valley, I have done everything. The Republicans cracked 13 precincts to get me out of the State House seat I represent. They know I'm a winning candidate."
Goudeau: If you are elected, what's going to be your top priority for the state?
Rep. Beckley: "Sure, we need to take the Medicaid expansion and reduce medical costs for all Texans, and we need to start focusing on fixing our infrastructure. It's not just the grid that is broken. We could barely get through this pandemic. Our TWC is run on COBOL. I mean, it has not been updated. We need to get broadband. We need to update our inland ports. There are so many things that need to happen to help the everyday lives and socioeconomic of the everyday Texan."
Carla Brailey, Ph.D.
Ashley Goudeau: Begin by telling our viewers a little bit about yourself and why you want to be the next lieutenant governor of Texas.
Carla Brailey, Ph.D.: "Oh, well, thank you. I am a mother. I'm an educator. I'm a lifelong Democrat. And more than anything, I'm a fearless fighter for all people. My entire life I have enjoyed just serving people. I always tell people public service is not an option for me; it's a way of life. It's what my family has done. That's all I know. For the past 3.5 years, I've served the state as the vice chair of the Texas Democratic Party, and we know that we have a very large state, but I have attempted to really travel all over … I realized that the state that we're in and state in Texas, it's pretty bad in terms of our voting rights or women's rights being directly challenged, trans rights being challenged. At the end of the day, you know, as a 25-year-plus teacher, or educator, I also realized that we're not having the highest quality of education that we can have, inclusive education. And so, for me, I thought there was a lot on the line. And why not run? You know, that was the real question that I had to really face."
Goudeau: The other candidates in this race feel they are better suited to face off against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Rep. Michele Beckley says she has won campaigns and has a voting record in the Texas Legislature. Mike Collier points to his experience running two previous statewide campaigns, coming about five points away from beating Patrick in 2018. What would you say makes you the better candidate in this field?
Brailey: "Well, thanks for the question. You know, quite frankly, I've traveled this state. I've worked with people on the ground to be able to have those relationships that I spoke earlier. That matters. People that know that you're not coming to just their areas during political season, and that's something that we have to be able to do on. It doesn't matter the party – whether it's Democrat, whether it's Republican, whether it's Independent, people want to know that you authentically care about their issues. We have to get the messaging right and, quite frankly, it has to be the right messenger. And for me, I've done that. I've already been doing that work as vice chair. I served as executive director of media affairs for the District of Columbia. I understand what it means to put constituents first, and right now that has not happened … Quite frankly, you know, I'm a Black woman, and I really believe that, you know, we have to have the most diverse statewide ticket that we can. I'm the first African American woman to run as a Democratic candidate at the top of the ticket, but also I'm the only Black woman on the statewide ticket. And so we have to make sure that we give people reasons to vote and vote in terms of where they can relate to all of the candidates on the Democratic side."
Goudeau: If you are elected, tell us what will be your top priority for the state.
Brailey: "Well, you know, top priority is we have a lot of things that we're going to have to address, whether it be education, health care, whether it be the power grid, whether it be increasing the living wage, whether it's even dealing with gun safety. Top priority, I also believe that education ties to all of those things. One of my late, great she-roes is Barbara Jordan. She would say that education is the key essential to both economic and political empowerment. So, I definitely think that we have to have a high-quality, inclusive education that provides students an education regardless of their ZIP code, that exposes them to opportunities to be able to have a pipeline from the school to the workforce so that they have a choice if they're going to go either to college, to a two-year institution or even vocational trade, and they have to be able to have that exposure."
Ashley Goudeau: I would say most Texas Democratic voters are familiar with you. You were the candidate for comptroller, then lieutenant governor in 2018. Why should voters back you again in 2022?
Mike Collier: "Well, I'll tell you, it's a big state and it takes a lot of effort to put together an infrastructure and all the contacts and experience to win. Democrats haven't won a statewide race in 30 years, and there's a lot of reasons for that. But one of it is it's a big state and, which is why I've been working on this for so long. And so, in terms of having familiarity with the issues around the state, relationships, surrogates, champions, infrastructure – that's all in place from previous efforts. And now we must win, and that is so important."
Goudeau: You know, in 2018, you lost to Dan Patrick by nearly 5 percentage points. Another candidate in this race, Rep. Michelle Berkley, says she knows how to win elections and that she has experience at the Capitol. The other candidate, Dr. Carla Brailey, brings diversity that we haven't traditionally seen in this field. So what makes you the best candidate among them?
Collier: "Well, first of all, it's good to be campaigning in the company of Democrats. So I feel wonderful about this primary. We're not running against each other, we're running with each other to do something which is very, very important, which is to make sure that the next lieutenant governor is a Democrat. The key difference, in my judgment, is do we have the infrastructure and the resources and the campaign operation and the expertise to win? It is such a large state and the issues that matter to Texans in the Panhandle, not the same as the issues that matter to folks in Central Texas, not the same as how people feel in South Texas or up in Texarkana and you name it. And I've been all around the state with folks helping me in these places and have the resources and the campaign operation to beat Dan Patrick. If we don't beat Dan Patrick, then this just isn't good. We've got to beat Dan Patrick."
Goudeau: If you are elected, what will be your top priority for the state?
Collier: "Well, there are some things that we have to unwind from the last legislative session. For example, this canceling Roe v. Wade in this vigilante type approach is absolutely wrong. Texans are very unhappy about that. Canceling license to carry is a terrible mistake. We have a real problem with gun violence in this state and canceling permit to carry is really just putting gasoline on that fire. We have to fix the damn grid. I'm also very worried about the future of public education. You know, with redistricting in a Legislature that may think of themselves as not accountable to us, then we must elect a Democrat lieutenant governor. Otherwise, I don't think that public education will make it through another four years of Dan Patrick. And that's just the start of the issues. There's so many other things … I mean, we're still in real peril because the grid has not been fixed. And the cold snap was nothing more than a cold snap. There's no time to slap ourselves on the back and say this grid is repaired. We would not survive another Uri, and that could happen. So there's a lot. It's hard to say that there's one most important thing, but there's a lot of important things we have to do."
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