SAN ANTONIO – In a San Antonio neighborhood bar, Matthew Dowd gives out his share of handshakes and hugs. He has been a part of plenty of political campaigns, just never as a candidate. Dowd is a man who made his name in political strategy, but this will be the first time his name is on the ballot for the Texas lieutenant governor seat.
“You can’t win in Texas if you don’t win the San Antonio area, so I’m here. This is our first in-person trip since I announced. In the midst of this, I plan on coming back here numerous times, but it’s incredibly important,” Dowd said.
Many in the crowd at the neighborhood bar recognized him. He’s spent time on ABC, CNN and MSNBC as a political analyst, and he has been a political consultant for Democrats and Republicans. If things go his way, he’ll be the next lieutenant governor of the State of Texas and unseat current Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.
“Because of everything that’s happened, what happened on Jan. 6 in the insurrection and the response to that -- and then the Texas legislative sessions and all that -- I just felt like I had to stand up and try to do something more than what I was doing,” Dowd said.
The decision to run for lieutenant governor meant another switch in parties for a man who’s no stranger switches. Dowd was a Democrat when he worked for then-Lt. Governor Bob Bullock, became a Republican to help the George W. Bush presidential candidacy, then became an independent and is now running as a Democrat.
“I think Republican officials have failed Texas. I think they’ve systematically failed Texas. They haven’t protected us during COVID. They haven’t protected us during the grid failure. They haven’t protected us with our ability to vote in numerous ways. They failed all of us,” Dowd said.
Dowd lives in Wimberley and plans, in his words, “to roll back part of the damage” that he says Republican lawmakers have done, from the new abortion law to concealed carry to failing to fix the power grid. He says he is running as a Bob Bullock/Ann Richards Democrat, but before he takes on Republican Dan Patrick, Dowd needs to win the Democratic party primary. He is opposed by Mike Collier, who almost beat Patrick the last go around.
Patrick hasn’t made a comment on Dowd’s campaign. As for Collier, he has said he expected someone else would run, and he “welcomes Dowd” back to the Democratic party.
As he wraps up the first of what will be many events between now and election day, Dowd is very aware that he is taking a risk, and his ability to connect with voters will be key to whether this first-time candidate has a future with his name on the ballot.
“Listen, I love this state, but I can’t stand our politics, and I just came to the view. It’s worth the sacrifice because I think people are suffering. And so it was finally crossing that threshold of ‘There’s more to be done, ‘and I should be doing more,” Dowd said.