TEXAS, USA — State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) is adding his name to the list of Republicans supporting Democrat Mike Collier’s bid for Lieutenant Governor. And stating publicly that he’ll vote for the Democrat in the race for one of Texas’ top jobs certainly sends a message.
“As we become more and more diverse in the state of Texas, our leadership needs to adapt to that diversity and try to represent all of the people in the state of Texas, even the ones with whom we have philosophical disagreements. And I think that’s very important. Dan Patrick is an extremist,” Sen. Seliger said on Inside Texas Politics.
There has been bad blood between Sen. Seliger, a Republican from Amarillo, and incumbent Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick for years.
In 2018, Seliger didn’t endorse Patrick for re-election, but he didn’t actively support anyone else either. And Seliger is quick to point out that Patrick didn’t endorse him that year either.
Fast forward four years, and with Seliger retiring at the end of this year, the gloves are off.
Patrick’s campaign has called Seliger and Republican Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, who also says he’ll vote for Collier and who is also retiring at the end of the year, “dinosaurs” searching for relevance.
Seliger says he’s backing Collier partly for the state of Texas and partly for the Texas Senate. He says the Republican caucus in the Senate has long been working under the threat of demotion.
“In 2017, the Lieutenant Governor made a big pronouncement that he had 30 priorities, 30 legislative priorities. No other Lieutenant Governor had really done something like that,” Senator Seliger told us. “I voted against two of them. And for that, I lost my chairmanship and I lost membership on things like the finance committee, which was a real slap in the face to the people in west Texas. And that’s the way the Senate runs.”
Before joining the Texas Senate in 2004, Seliger was a four-term mayor of Amarillo, so he’s burnished his conservative credentials over decades in Texas political life.
And he knows he’ll hear from fellow Republicans. But he won’t back down. And he certainly doesn’t think his vote for Collier, himself a former Republican, changes the need to return to what he calls “real conservatism” on issues such as property taxes, local control and school funding.
“I’ve been a Republican, I’ve always been a Republican. I’ve always been a conservative. But that does not carry with it the obligation to meet other people’s standards of conservative,” said Seliger. “It is a huge, big government measure to take away from cities the right to regulate the number of chickens that people keep in their backyards, a bill that Dan Patrick supported. That is huge government. That’s not up to the state of Texas. It’s up to local city councils. And if people don’t like it, they get a new city council.”
We’ve invited Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to join us on Inside Texas Politics and on our podcast Y’all-itics. A spokesman for his campaign said he is unavailable.