Texas Elections 2018More in this series
At a Texas Tribune event Thursday morning, Scott Milder — a public education advocate and a Republican challenging Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in next year’s primary — readily named the Texas-sized problems he blames on Patrick. He was shorter on solutions.
He’s got local government and public education funding chops — and he can identify necessary improvements. Milder, who along with his wife founded the advocacy group Texas Friends of Public Schools, evinced a thorough knowledge of the public school system. He called for more state money funding public schools, said he would “take vouchers off the table” and said that he is “generally” opposed to the state system of recapture, a funding scheme under which money from wealthier school districts is used to assist poorer areas. He also said the state has pressing infrastructure needs, and that “regular Texans” desperately need property tax relief.
… But few specific plans. Asked how he would fund these priorities without raising taxes, Milder hesitated. He could not say how much money he wanted for public schools or how he’d find those funds. He also stumbled on how he’d fund the infrastructure plans he says the state desperately needs. He said he is “generally against toll roads” and added that he needs to get to know the Texas Department of Transportation.
“I don’t have answers for everything,” he said. “That’s what makes me a regular Texan.”
Milder opposes the bathroom bill. But don’t confuse that for advocacy for transgender Texans. Milder, who bills himself as a “rational Republican,” has come out against the divisive “bathroom bill” that dominated Texas politics in 2017. But he made clear that his opposition to the bill stems from support for the business community — not “sympathies for the transgender community or any other special interest community.”
“They’ve got a legitimate beef [with the bill],” Milder said. “They can have a legitimate beef without me being sympathetic to it.”
It’s a David vs. Goliath race — but, as Milder emphasized, “all it took was one little slingshot.” Milder seems to be relying on anti-Patrick sentiment to propel him into the lieutenant governor’s chair. And in his campaign rhetoric, he has consistently positioned himself against the popular incumbent, calling Patrick a “bully,” “jackass” and even a “fake conservative.” He criticized Patrick as “not one bit” sincere in his support of poor students, and said many high-powered Texas officials — including Senate chairmen and even Gov. Greg Abbott — might retreat from their most extreme views if Patrick were removed from his bully pulpit.