‘Rational Republican’ Milder enters race against ‘extremist’ Dan Patrick


12:45 p.m. update

Presenting himself as “a rational, conservative Republican running against an extremist incumbent,” Scott Milder, a former Rockwall city council member and advocate for public education, declared Thursday that he is challenging Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in the March Republican primary.

“Somebody’s’s got to stand up and confront the bully who’s never going to stop picking on the little guy,” Milder, 49, said in an interview in Austin with the American-Statesman. “He’s insulting. He’s polarizing. He’s divisive. He’s not a strong a leader. He doesn’t represent the values of class and character that Texans have.”

Patrick’s political consultant, Allen Blakemore, responded that, “Dan Patrick is unequivocally the hardest working, most effective, conservative leader in the history of the Texas Senate. He enjoys overwhelming support among Texas Republicans, including early endorsements from Gov. Abbott, Sen. Cornyn, Sen. Cruz, major conservative grassroots leaders, a majority of Republican county chairs and SREC members, and a long list of Texas business leaders.”

But, Milder said he believes “there is a groundswell of anti-Patrick sentiment all over Texas. I hear it everywhere I go, and these are traditional conservative, rational Republicans. And that’s what I consider myself,”

Milder is the founder and CEO of Friends of Texas Public Schools, which describes itself as dedicated to “celebrating what’s right with our schools.”

He is an executive with Stantec Architecture, an international engineering and design firm, which designs a lot of schools in Texas. Milder works in helping school districts do pre-bond project planning. He previously worked as a public information officer for the Galena Park and Mesquite independent school districts.

Of Patrick, Milder said, “He’s public enemy number one of public education.”

Milder said that in the 2017 legislative sessions, Patrick “had an opportunity to pass a bail that would have provided $1.8 billion in additional funding for our public schools, and he said, `No,’ because of petty politics.”

“And frankly, I think he’s public enemy number one of the business community, public enemy number one of the local elected officials community,” said Milder.

Milder also asserted there was strong opposition to Patrick among many Texas pastors, a group Patrick has assiduously courted on behalf of his political agenda.

When Patrick was inaugurated as lieutenant governor in 2015, he described himself as a “Christian first, a conservative second and a Republican third.”

But Milder said has has found that many pastors in Texas “are outraged” by Patrick’s politics.

Milder said about six months ago he corralled a group of folks around the state who wanted to come up with “a really solid strategy to retire Dan Patrick but it hinged on a candidate, a challenger.”

“But the further along we want, we realized that nobody with any Republican brand identity is going to step up and challenge Dan Patrick,” Milder said.

Milder said that the political reality in Texas is “only way to defeat Dan Patrick would be to take him on in the primary,” he was encouraged to run, and he decided to be the one to fill the breach.

He said he is counting on the overconfidence of Patrick and his core supporter to open the door to a surprise victory.

“He’s got a big ego,” Milder said. “I don’t think he’s going to take me seriously. He’ll appear on the outside to be taking me seriously, but I think on the inside he’s going to be, `I’m totally going to win this thing.’”

But, Milder said, “The grassroots strategy we’ve put in place is going to surprise him on Election Day.”

In May, Milder lost re-election to a third term as a member of the Rockwall City Council to Rockwall Chamber of Commerce President Dana Macalik.

Milder credited his loss on his vocal opposition to a local ordinance to regulate bathroom use by birth sex that Rockwall Mayor Jim Pruitt had proposed in May 2016. Pruitt couldn’t get a second for his ordinance on the council, but Milder in particular became the political target for those in the community who had backed the measure.

Milder said the debate over that local ordinance foreshadowed the statewide debate over Patrick’s efforts to enact a state bathroom bill.

“It’s not a pro-business policy,” Milder aid. “It’s a solution without a problem.”

“Nobody can find any evidence of there being any kind of a problem that requires a bathroom ordinance and there’s already laws on the books that we can enforce for lewd behavior, for any kind of assault,” MIlder said. “All the bathroom bill is is political grandstanding.”

“And it’s discriminatory in nature, and now have companies like Amazon that were previously considering coming to Texas, and so now that jeopardizes our chances of getting Amazon to come to Texas,” Milder said. “We don’t want that. We want Amazon coming to Texas.”

Milder said his critique of Patrick does not apply at all to Gov. Greg Abbott.

“I separate them,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for Gov. Abbott.”

Asked if he was prepared for the rough-and-tumble of a statewide Republican primary campaign, Milder said he’s already gotten a taste of that.

“He’s released his goons on me,” Milder said of Patrick. “He’s submitted public information requests to every school district in Texas for any and all documentation with my name on it.”

“He’s wasting thousands of man-hours and resources in our public schools for political purposes,” Milder said.

Asked about that, Blakemore replied, “When Mr. Milder entered the race, we asked, `who is this guy?’ Like many people, we wanted to know about this fellow. So, we have begun our due diligence process.”

EARLIER:

Scott Milder, a Rockwall businessman, former city councilor and advocate for public education, is challenging Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for the Republican nomination in 2018, describing himself as a “rational conservative” alternative to the incumbent.

“Texans are fed up with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s antics and deserve a choice on the Republican primary ballot,” Milder said in a statement released Thursday morning. “Voters want to support a rational conservative leader who will govern with common sense and focus on the critical challenges facing Texas.”

Milder described himself as having been drafted to run by business and education leaders unapphy with Patrick.

“The current lieutenant governor has spent his entire career dreaming up ways to get behind a microphone or in front of a camera,” Milder said. “I’m running to turn the state’s focus back on critical state business, such as public education, border security, real property tax relief and our infrastructure crisis.”

Milder is the founder and CEO of Friends of Texas Public Schools, which describes itself as dedicated to “celebrating what’s right with our schools.”

He is an executive with Stantec Architecture, an international engineering and design firm.

In May, Milder lost re-election to a third term as a member of the Rockwall City Council to Rockwall Chamber of Commerce President Dana Macalik.

“Dan Patrick chooses to serve a few billionaires who happen to be his top campaign contributors,” Milder said. “Dan Patrick has failed to address our property tax crisis, alienated the business community, insulted our community leaders and turned his back on 5.3 million public school children.”

“Texans deserve better,” he said. “If elected, I would serve all Texans and would govern with civility and respect for everyone whether our beliefs and politics align or not.”



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