Acting to quash speculation that he had his eye on the Governor’s Mansion, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Monday that he will run for re-election in 2018.
Patrick said he will never run for governor as long as the position is occupied by “my friend, my ally, my conservative partner, Greg Abbott.” To underscore his point, Patrick also said his campaign will have a robust $13.6 million on hand for the lieutenant governor’s race, and he jumped the gun in endorsing Abbott’s re-election.
Abbott has not formally announced his intentions for 2018, Patrick acknowledged, “but when he does, I want to be the first to endorse him.”
If, however, Abbott’s office were to become vacant, Patrick added that he would reassess his options.
“Put it in cement,” he said at a news conference at Republican Party of Texas headquarters in downtown Austin. “I’m not — in 2018 and never — running against Greg Abbott for governor.”
Patrick made a similar announcement toward the end of the 2015 legislative session, gathering reporters around him to say that he was not interested in challenging Abbott. His reason then was the same — to end speculation that he was considering taking a primary shot at Abbott.
“What would be the point?” Patrick said Monday. “I like what I do.”
Patrick said he called Monday’s news conference to avoid having questions about his future become a distraction during the legislative session that will begin Tuesday.
Patrick also shot down speculation that he was interested in replacing U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, or in taking a position in the Donald Trump administration. Patrick said he strongly supported both because he wanted them elected to the White House, not because he was interested in another job.
“I want these stories to stop,” Patrick said. “All of that has been nothing more than someone’s pipe dream, some speculation based on no facts.”
After eight years as a Republican senator from Houston, Patrick was sworn in as lieutenant governor in 2015 after handily defeating incumbent David Dewhurst in the 2014 GOP primary runoff.
In addition to introducing punctuality to the Senate chamber, Patrick charted a more aggressively conservative course than Dewhurst, who was rather conservative himself. Highlights of his first session leading the Senate, according to Patrick, included legislation to add $800 million for border security, create A to F ratings for each school and attempt to reduce property taxes.
Patrick has raised the stakes for the coming session, designating 25 priorities laden with conservative measures, including transgender bathrooms, “sanctuary cities,” school choice, abortion regulations and ending the fee for gun licenses.