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Mike Collier

Davis outraises Abbott

Nice.

Sen. Wendy Davis

Sen. Wendy Davis

Democrat Wendy Davis pulled $8.7 million into her gubernatorial campaign coffers in the last half of 2013, and another group committed to her election as governor raised $3.5 million over the same period, the Davis campaign announced Tuesday. Minutes after she announced the combined $12.2 million haul, her expected Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, announced he had raised $11.5 million over the same time frame.

Both had bragging rights: Abbott outraised Davis when it came to their actual campaign accounts. But Davis had more when counting the joint “Texas Victory Committee” that splits its resources between her campaign and Battleground Texas, a group working to drive up Democratic turnout and make the GOP-ruled state politically competitive.

The Abbott campaign said it was misleading to combine the two pots of money in describing Davis’ total for the last half of 2013.

“It’s more fuzzy math from the Davis campaign,” Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said.

But Davis spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña said the money is all going to the same purpose: to help Davis become the first Democrat elected governor since Ann Richards won in an upset in 1990.

“The committee is a joint effort between Wendy Davis and Battleground Texas,” Acuña said. “The campaign has asked donors to contribute to the TVC, and that money goes to support the work those organizations conduct in making Wendy Davis the next governor.”

Separately, Battleground Texas will report an additional $1.8 million for its field operations. The group was founded by former field operatives for President Obama. Jenn Brown, executive director of the group, said the money that comes in from the joint committee would “absolutely” be used to support Davis’ efforts. She said Abbott’s campaign criticized the structure of Davis’ fundraising operation because he’s worried.

“That’s what I would say, too, if I had raised less,” Brown said. “I think this shows the excitement Texas has for Wendy, and they’re trying to discredit it and it’s terrible for him.”

Besides unveiling the combined $12.2 million haul, Team Davis also said that the Fort Worth senator had collected donations from 71,000 contributors from Texas and around the United States.

BOR has a copy of the Davis press release. The truly impressive stat to me is the one about Team Wendy getting a contribution from all 254 counties in Texas. That would include King County, in which President Obama received five – yes, I said “five” – votes in 2012, and Loving County, in which he received nine. Eighty-five percent of the donations were for $50 or less. And yes, that is some fine whining from the Abbott campaign. He has more cash overall, of course, since he’s had years to hoard many millions, but the game is officially on.

We should start to see finance reports for all candidates on the Texas Ethics Commission webpage tomorrow. I’m very interested to see how other statewide Dems have done, in particular Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. She got in a lot later, so she won’t have nearly as impressive a haul, but I do hope that overall she is able to keep up. This can’t be just the Wendy show, with no one else able to run a statewide organization. LVdP, Sam Houston, Mike Collier – it would be really nice if all of them are able to raise some money, too. It can’t all go to Wendy – we need to make the pie higher, as they say.

Yes, I know, money is not determinative. But let’s be honest, it’s expensive to run a statewide campaign in Texas. You can’t raise the kind of money you’re going to need to run that campaign if people don’t believe in you. This is a great first step, but it’s a long way from over. Davis will need to repeat this kind of performance for July and for the 30 day, and again she’s going to need her ballotmates to do well, too. We all have our work cut out for us.

Mike Collier makes his entrance

Mike Collier, the Democratic candidate for Comptroller, has officially rolled out his campaign:

Pretty effective pitch, I think. For sure, he has plenty of material to work with. Collier also got interviewed by the Trib on Monday:

Mike Collier

Nearly as soon as state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, ended her June filibuster, Democrats began talking about her as a 2014 gubernatorial candidate and who should join her at the top of the ticket. Retired businessman Mike Collier is the first to volunteer. After months of exploring a bid, he plans to kick off his campaign for comptroller on Monday. The first-time candidate said he hopes to appeal to Democrats and Republicans while doing what he can to boost Davis’ bid for governor.

Collier, 52, was, until earlier this year, chief financial officer of Houston-based Layline Petroleum. Though he has supported Republicans in the past, he said he now views the Republican Party as too extreme. After Davis’ filibuster, Collier said his interest in running for statewide office increased as he considered becoming part of a broader Democratic ticket led by Davis.

“I have just been working under the assumption all along that she would run,” Collier said.

[…]

The following is an edited and condensed transcript of the interview.

TT: What made you decide to run for comptroller?

Collier: My résumé and experience and education is tailor-made for this job. And to have a Democrat holding the Republican Legislature accountable would be a very worthwhile experience. I should also say that I had already concluded that if I were to go into politics, I couldn’t be a Republican.

TT: How long have you considered yourself a Democrat?

Collier: I’ve voted in every election I can recall. I’ve voted for a lot of Republicans, and I’ve voted for a lot of Democrats. I’ve only voted in one primary, for the [2012] presidential election. I voted against everybody but Mitt Romney. He was the businessman. The rest I had no time for.

[Republicans] have gotten more and more extreme, especially on the social issues. Ultimately, there’s no way I can be a Republican. I’m pro-choice. I support gay marriage. And I think we need immigration reform. So I can stop right there. With those three views, I could not be a Republican.

TT: What are your thoughts on how Susan Combs has performed as comptroller?

Collier: She is a Republican and a former legislator, and I think she just went with the flow. I don’t think she was a dynamic, forceful, impactful, objective executive. She did not play the watchdog role. The comptroller that I was most impressed with was [Democrat] John Sharp. That’s who I compare comptrollers against. I thought he was very dynamic, very effective, very innovative, ran these performance reviews that I thought were a very good thing. I’d like to bring these back.

Again, he sounds good to me. I look forward to meeting Mr. Collier, and to seeing the rest of the ticket get filled out. One more name I can add to the mix is Fort Bend County Democratic Party Chair Steve Brown, who has told me he’s thinking about running for Railroad Commissioner. If everyone else who has been reported to be at least thinking about running is in fact running, we’re already in pretty good shape. BOR has more.

Villarreal not running for Comptroller

One name off the board.

Rep. Mike Villarreal

State Rep. Mike Villarreal said Wednesday he has decided against a statewide run for comptroller and will instead campaign for re-election in San Antonio’s District 123.

Villarreal said he has been encouraged by Democrat activists and colleagues to run for Texas’ chief financial officer but that obligations to his family, in particular his children in second and fourth grade, will keep him on the statewide sidelines for now.

“Timing is everything in politics,” he said, adding that he is “very optimistic” that this is the year Democrats will end their nearly 20-year cold streak and win a statewide post. “But the timing is not good for me.”

Villarreal, who represents north central San Antonio, studied economics at Texas A&M University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard and is chairman of the House Investments and Financial Services committee. A run at statewide office for any House member would require forfeiting their seat, and in this case, a chairmanship.

When asked what will be different this election cycle to turn the tides for Democrats statewide, he pointed to state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.

I’m not terribly surprised by this, nor am I terribly disappointed. Like Sen. Davis, Rep. Villarreal would have to give up his seat to run statewide, which like her would mean giving up a lot for no sure thing, but unlike Sen. Davis he’d start out as basically an unknown, he’d have a much smaller fundraising base – Rep. Villarreal had $54K on hand in July, and raised $52,500 more in August, not exactly statewide numbers – and as candidate for Comptroller he’d have far less control over the outcome. No question, there’s a lot of Democratic talent in the House, but as I said before, I’d prefer to see other avenues taken before tapping that talent this year, as the steady replacement of mainstream Republicans by ignorant teabagger nihilists makes its presence in the lower chamber that much more vital. EoW suggests former Sen. Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso as a recruiting target, and I’m all in in that. For what it’s worth, the Dems do have a declared Comptroller candidate already, so at least we’re not trying to fill in a blank. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep looking for better candidates, and we still have some other slots to fill, most notably Attorney General, but we’ll have to look at someone other than Rep. Villarreal to fill them. Texpatriate, whose interpretation of Rep. Villarreal’s remarks I don’t agree with, has more.

Dems have a Comptroller candidate

BOR introduces us to Mike Collier.

Mike Collier

Earlier this month the Burnt Orange Report wrote about a “Mystery Houston-Area Democrat” who was building a statewide team, it turns out that man is Mike Collier, and he wants to be the next Comptroller for the state of Texas. The Houston businessman believes our state government needs an experienced CFO to handle its complex accounting and to hold our current elected officials accountable.

Collier not only wants the job, but believes he is the most qualified. He says Texas needs a Comptroller with a professional financial background and one who is not using the position as a stepping stone for higher office.

“For too long, the people we’ve hired to mind Texas’ tax dollars have been more interested in their political ambition than in holding politicians accountable. Texas needs a Comptroller who has the courage to tell taxpayers the truth and who has the know-how to hold the Texas legislature accountable.”

Collier says his business experience will be attractive to conservatives but that, “the Comptroller shouldn’t be beholden to the Republican party,” instead they should offer an independent view of the state’s finances. He served as executive assistant to the world chairman of Price Waterhouse, the world’s largest professional services firm with over 100,000 employees. He was a partner at Price Waterhouse Coopers for a dozen years and for a time served as a Merger and Acquisition consultant for their major energy clients. He left PWC to become Chief Financial Officer for an energy company. He then met a crossroads after he helped sell the company two years later — take a lucrative job in the private sector or step up and run for public office.

[…]

He is encouraged by the crowded field in the Republican primary which could leave the emerging candidate bloodied and broke. Another reason he cited was the “Wendy Davis factor”. He looks forward to her campaign energizing the donor base and spearheading an effective effort to get out the vote, but says that it’s her polling with anglos that could give Democrats the best opportunity to win that they have had in a very long time.

I am not yet acquainted with Mr. Collier, but I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity to meet him soon enough. Collier joins John Cook in the potential Democratic field for 2014, though of course we’re all just waiting for Sen. Wendy Davis’ announcement and to see what follows from there. I have heard about some other candidate recruitment going on, but nothing that I can say out loud just yet. I’m sure there will be plenty to talk about once we know what Sen. Davis’ decision is. In the meantime, welcome to the race and best of luck to you, Mike Collier.