Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is taking an official role with the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, serving as his Texas state chairman.
During the primaries, Patrick had chaired U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's efforts in Texas but quickly threw his support to Trump when Cruz left the race. Patrick has since become the most vocal advocate for Trump among Republican officials in Texas, pitching him in media appearances, at fundraisers and at rallies.
"My primary goal is to unite our party in Texas," Patrick said in a statement Friday announcing the new role. "I want to ensure a solid Trump win and to remind Republican voters, and the new Trump voters who came out in the primary, to support the entire Republican ticket from the White House to the Court House."
In a separate statement, Trump praised Patrick as a "passionate conservative who has been a good friend to our campaign." Joshua Jones, Trump's Texas state director, said one of Patrick's responsibilities will be to recruit supporters from Texas to volunteer in battleground states.
Patrick's appointment comes at a time when Democrats are eying Texas, a solidly red state, as more competitive than usual, buoyed by a series of polls showing Trump leading his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, by only single digits.
Trump is set to return to the state Saturday to visit Houston for a fundraiser and remarks to a group of families of those killed by people in the country illegally.
It's a question most Texas politicos aren't used to asking, let alone having to debate: How close, really, is the presidential race in the Lone Star State?
Trump, speaking in Austin in August, assailed Clinton as unfit for public office in the wake of new reports about ties to her family foundation while serving as U.S. secretary of state.