Republicans endorse Democratic candidate over Dan Patrick for Texas Lieutenant Governor race

The race for Texas Lieutenant Governor is heating up. 

Democratic candidate Mike Collier received two big endorsements from unlikely sources who stepped across party lines. Tarrant County Judge Glenn Whitley and outgoing GOP Senator Kel Seliger both endorsed Collier over incumbent Dan Patrick. 

Ed Espinosa, president of Progress Texas, and Matt McEvoy, chair of the Travis County Republican Party, join FOX 7 Austin's Rebecca Thomas to discuss.

REBECCA THOMAS: Ed, what is the significance of two Republicans throwing their support to a Democrat over the sitting lieutenant governor?

ED ESPINOZA: It's quite significant, especially in the state that's been run by Republicans for so long. Because many of your Republican lawmakers don't want to break ranks. So for them to have to break ranks and publicly endorse a Democrat is quite remarkable. Now, it's not shouldn't really be that much of a surprise because we have seen Dan Patrick Cross people at the local level before. And you usually think about this, about the legislature attacking Austin. But it's important to keep in mind that these local officials are coming from Tarrant County. And I believe Kels Seliger is from North Texas up in the panhandle, the West Hill area. So I think this is very significant.

REBECCA THOMAS: Matt Patrick's chief strategist dismissed the comments and called Seliger and Whitley, quote, Dinosaurs searching for relevance. What are your thoughts on these Republican endorsements of Patrick's opponent?

MATT MACKOWIAK: Yeah, I mean, we've also left out the fact that a sitting Democratic state senator named Senator Lucio crossed party lines and endorsed a lieutenant governor. So there's this happening in both directions at the moment. Now, of course, these two Republicans are retiring. The county judge in Tarrant County is retiring. The state senator, Carl Seliger in West, Texas is retiring. And in both cases, lieutenant governor has been at odds with them on major issues. Senator Carl Seliger has had for some time not been on board with the Republican majority in the Senate on a couple of key issues. And he was blocking things for moving forward. This county judge was angry that that old Senate governor wanted to keep property taxes down at that 3.2% rate or below. So. So there are some bad blood and there's some history. In that case, I don't think too retiring Republicans in different parts of the state are going to make that much difference. The University of Houston poll just last week had Lieutenant Governor Patrick up 6% over Mike Collier, my colleague, Democratic nominee colors run statewide twice already, and it's not been successful. Instead of Governor Patrick going to be reelected, and he is going to lead the most conservative Senate starting in January in the history of the state.

REBECCA THOMAS: Ed, do these endorsements, these GOP endorsements expose an opening for Democrats to potentially flip more moderate Republicans?

ED ESPINOZA: I think they do. And I can't emphasize enough the fact that these endorsements come from Tarrant County, Fort Worth and West Texas Panhandle area. This is not Austin we're talking about. These are not politicians who rely on Democratic votes as much as people do in other areas. This is less about politics, more about policy. They're frustrated with the policy of the legislature. And I'll say this, it's this is a signal that Republicans are sending to other Republican voters and other Republican officials that they are breaking ranks, and perhaps it's safe for other people to break ranks as well. So this may not be the last crossover that we see for a Democrat in Texas this year.  

REBECCA THOMAS: Matt, what do you think is going to happen between now and November? Does Patrick have any reason to be concerned?

MATT MACKOWIAK: Well, he's running hard. He's on a 40 or 50 city bus tour for the next month and a half. Right now, going all over the state. It's not just better that does that other people do that as well. The Senate governor is working very hard. He's raised more money than any lieutenant governor in the history of the state of Texas. And he's helping Republicans up and down ballot. I am highly confident lieutenant governor will be reelected, but obviously a ballot is going to matter. How much does Governor Greg Abbott win by? If Patrick and Abbott are both about the same point on the ballot, then Patterson might be just fine. If he's a little below Abbott, then that margin of victory for Abbott over Beto is going to be really significant. So there's a lot to watch. We've got two months to go. It's going to be very high stakes, very intense. But I'm highly confident that governor will be reelected.

REBECCA THOMAS: All right. We're out of time. But Matt, Ed, thank you both for sharing your perspectives with us tonight.