Political strategist and pundit Matthew Dowd visited San Antonio Tuesday to make a case to voters for why he should be the next lieutenant governor of Texas. 

“It’s not about me,” he said to the 50-odd people gathered at The Friendly Spot in Southtown on Tuesday. “I can’t do this by myself. My name might be on the ballot, but it’s gonna take every single one of us to do this.”

Dowd is one of two Democratic candidates who have officially announced their run for lieutenant governor, a seat currently held by Republican Dan Patrick. Dowd, who lives in Wimberley, announced last Wednesday that he was running for lieutenant governor of Texas as a Democrat.

Dowd previously served as chief strategist for President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign, but later publicly criticized the president’s handling of the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina, labeling himself as an independent.

Dowd enters the lieutenant governor race with a national profile, as he spent the last 13 years at ABC News. He started with the network in 2007 as a political contributor but was working as its chief political analyst when he left in January.

Texas has not seen a Democratic lieutenant governor since former Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, who was re-elected for his second term in 1994. Dowd highlighted his work with Bullock and waved off any potential criticism of his political past.

“I think if they followed me, they’re intrigued by my career arc and when I spoke truth and when I stayed with my own integrity,” he said. “I think people are intrigued by it.”

The campaign of his fellow Democratic candidate Mike Collier took note of that history with a cheeky greeting after Dowd announced his candidacy.

“After 20 years working to elect Republicans across the country, we welcome Matthew Dowd back to the Democratic Party,” Collier’s deputy campaign manager Ali S. Zaidi said in a statement last Wednesday.

Collier, an accountant from Houston who ran for lieutenant governor in 2018 but lost to Patrick by nearly 5 percentage points, officially declared his candidacy on Monday after campaigning under an exploratory committee for six months. 

“As a career-long auditor, energy expert, and financial watchdog, I’m eager to deliver solutions for the people of Texas — not create more problems,” Collier said in a statement. “The last few months have shown that our state faces a crisis of competent leadership, and Texas needs a proven business leader, not a radio shock jock zealot, at the helm of this great state.”

Collier will visit San Antonio as part of a “listening tour” on Oct. 30, according to his campaign. He began that tour on Monday with stops in Austin and Waco. 

Dowd will continue stumping with stops in Waco and the Dallas-Fort Worth area later this week, he said. San Antonio was one of his first campaign stops. He told listeners on Tuesday that his goal was to get Patrick out of office and that he would work on that whether he secured the Democratic nomination or not.

Democratic candidate for Texas Lt. Gov Matthew Dowd hugs an attendee at the meet and greet he hosted at The Friendly Spot Tuesday.
Political strategist and pundit Matthew Dowd hugs an attendee at the meet and greet he hosted at The Friendly Spot Tuesday. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

“Think about the grid, think about COVID, think about health care, think about education,” Dowd said. “All of those big issues we’re faced with — [Patrick has] not only not done anything, he’s made them all worse.”

Dowd fielded questions from the crowd Tuesday about fixing the state foster care system, how he would work with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, and preventing another statewide power outage. He pledged to run without “taking a single dollar from a corporate PAC” and stay unfettered by players like oil and gas companies, while also recognizing that many Texans are employed by that industry.

“Why did we have a grid failure? It was bad policy,” he said. “But it was also because of climate change, and they never dealt with climate change. So to me, clean energy is the future. But we have to realize the present that we’re in and how to work those two together. I think we can do that as long as we don’t take special interest money that affects our policies.”

Dowd also said he hopes former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who has been mulling a gubernatorial run, announces his candidacy soon.

“I think he’d motivate a lot of voters,” Dowd said. “I would love to work with him as governor and lieutenant governor. I don’t want to speak for Beto, but I think he’d enjoy that as well. 

“I await his arrival,” he said to the laughing crowd.

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is the local government reporter at the San Antonio Report.