As far as I can tell, Matthew Dowd has always been a political opportunist. Most of us first became aware of him-- if at all-- when he was chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign in 2004. Here in California many of us also remember him as doing the same job for Arnold Schwarzenegger two years later. And then he made a lot of noise when he was one of the first of the rats to jump clear of Bush's sinking ship (in a craven front page mea culpa for the NY Times). Dowd was born into a Republican family and volunteered for Rep. William Broomfield (R-MI), then Gov. Joseph Teasdale (D-MO), then Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) and then Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) before officially switching to the GOP in 1999. He was soon working for the RNC.
Whether Democrat or Republican, he has always supported the status quo and status quo candidates and has never been a fan of systemic change or candidates who advocate for systemic change. Today he announced he's running-- as a Democrat-- for Lt. Governor of Texas. (Texas invests more power in the Lt. Governor's position than any other state; it's a big job.)
The first person I asked to explain to me if this is even real is Mike Siegel, co-chair of Ground Game Texas. "The Matthew Dowd campaign is a fantasy," Mike told me this afternoon. "It's based on the premise that a significant number of Republicans will switch parties and support a 'moderate Democrat' in the general election, which has no basis in reality. The only way for Democrats to win statewide office in Texas is to inspire large numbers of new voters-- Black folks, Latino folks, working class folks. Dowd can't speak to any of these people. He's a Bush/Cheney political hack who backed the Iraq invasion and used a ban on gay marriage to help GW win re-election. I can't see him getting even 20% of the vote in places like Austin. He'd be much better off raising $5 or $10 million for the Texas Democratic Party and going back to whatever hole he crawled out of." The Turning Texas Blue thermometer above has all the Texas progressives Blue America is supporting. Don't expect to ever see Matthew Dowd's name on there.
Is everything he says about Dan Patrick true? Oh, yes. Do Texans need an opportunistic lesser-evil candidate (with a "D" next to his name right now)? Not in my opinion. In his ad above, he called Patrick "cruel and craven," which just so happens to be words people used rot describe him when he dumped Bush. I guess they made an impression.
Mike Collier, who Patrick beat in 2018 by 5 points, and is running again, seemed amused by the entry of the Republicrat into the race "After 20 years working to elect Republicans across the country, we welcome Matthew Dowd back to the Democratic Party. Mr. Dowd-- you may notice things have changed a lot since you were working for Republicans. Democratic voters will be interested to hear how selling a false war, ensuring the deciding Supreme Court vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, and leading the charge to pass numerous anti-marriage equality ballot measures have shaped your current views."
This morning, Texas Tribune reporter James Barragan wrote that when he interviewed him, Dowd said he started seriously considering running for office after the Trump insurrection of Jan. 6. "But it wasn’t until after the state’s legislative session that Dowd really focused on Patrick as his target. 'Watching the legislative session and how horrendous it was-- not only what the lieutenant governor didn’t do, but also what he did do,' Dowd said. 'This summer, I started thinking maybe I should run and remove this guy so I don’t have to be embarrassed about our own state.' Dowd said Patrick failed to lead on fixing the electric grid after millions of Texans lost power for days during winter storms in February and has refused to take action to address the cost of health care in the state, even as he made it more difficult for local officials to address COVID-19 by going against the recommendations of doctors and scientists."
Instead, Dowd said, Patrick pushed “culture war” issues such as an elections bill that opponents say will disenfranchise voters of color and a near-total abortion ban in the state. And following mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa in 2019, Patrick responded by pushing for a law that allows Texans to carry a handgun without training or a license.
Dowd would roll back all three of those laws, which he said were pushed by Patrick and the “5 percent” of people on the far right of the GOP who swing primary elections.
“Right now, Dan Patrick is a tyranny of the minority,” he said.
Dowd said he’s running as a “Bob Bullock, Ann Richards Democrat,” a throwback to the last two Democrats elected as lieutenant governor and governor of the state in the 1990s. If elected, he’d focus on fixing problems with the state’s electric grid and returning decision-making to local officials so they can tackle challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order, local officials are banned from mask and vaccine mandates, among other measures intended to stop the spread of the virus.
Patrick pressured officials at the Public Utilities Commission to reverse $16 billion in electricity charges racked up during the winter storms. He pushed through legislation in the Senate toward that end, but the proposal died in the House.
Dowd also said he’d allow educators to teach history in schools without fear of repercussions, a dig at another law, the so-called “critical race theory” bills that Patrick supported during this year’s legislative sessions.