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lieutenant governor Dan Patrick said on Tuesday that he would “absolutely” run for re-election in 2026, contradicting previous comments he made saying that would be his last term.
“I really enjoy what I do,” Patrick said, praising the collegiality of the state senate he leads. “I’m in good health and I just won eight hundred and thirty something thousand votes, so why don’t I come back? I think in 26th we will be in good shape both at the primary and at the general level.”
Patrick won a third term last year by 12 percentage points, defeating Democrat Mike Collier. Before this election cycle, Patrick said that if he won re-election in 2022, “that would be my last term.”
“The time will come,” Patrick said in July 2020. “I’m kind of like a time limiter. It will be 12 years as lieutenant governor if I am lucky enough to win again.”
While the 2026 election is more than three years away, Patrick’s announcement is particularly noteworthy given the deadlock of ambitious Texan Republicans who have been waiting for a statewide office to open. This group includes a number of GOP senators in Patrick’s own house.
Patrick made the comments at a one-day conference in Austin hosted by The Texan, a Texas political news site created by a former GOP senator. Connie Burton.
As part of the interview, Patrick also clarified a comment he made during his campaign about some school choice advocates that should be a major issue in this legislative session. Patrick said on the radio show that lawmakers will “strike out rural Texas” from the school choice program, hinting at longstanding resistance from rural Texas residents who fear such initiatives will undermine their public schools.
On Tuesday, Patrick said he made the comment “on one of my 15-hour days and I really said it wrong.”
“What I meant by parenthesis – I didn’t mean parenthesis,” Patrick said. “I was talking about finding a way to separate the schools so we can pass the bill and parents still have a choice of schools, but we have to do something to get those votes to get these Republicans to vote for it. telling school principals, “You don’t lose money by losing a handful of students.”
Patrick has long championed programs that allow parents to use public dollars to send their children to schools outside the traditional public school system, including private schools. But in this session, the case received a new impetus, with more explicit support than ever from the governor. Greg Abbott. Patrick said during his inaugural address earlier this month that he and Abbott are “all in the school choice” and promised they would protect rural schools.
Such legislation is likely to pass in the House of Representatives, where rural Republicans have typically played a key role in blocking school choice proposals. Patrick had an acrimonious relationship with the Speaker of the House. Dade PhelanR-Beaumont, and he signaled on Tuesday that a new conflict could arise as the Senate gets down to business during the 140-day session.
“I look forward to working with the speaker, but I don’t apologize for taking the conservative agenda to the House of Representatives,” Patrick said. “I try to stay out of fights, but I won’t let people stand by and make excuses.”
Recently, Phelan fought off an onslaught by a small group of Republicans in the House of Representatives to ban Democratic committee chairs, a practice that Phelan defends as a healthy tradition. Patrick said he was “eight years ahead of the curve” when he took office in 2015 and significantly reduced the number of Democratic committee chairs in the upper house. On Monday, he unveiled his latest committee appointments, and only one committee, the Criminal Justice Committee, will continue to be chaired by a Democratic senator. John Whitmire Houston.
Patrick defended Whitmire, saying he was the dean of the Senate and, “most importantly,” an expert on prisons. Patrick reiterated that if Whitmire left the Senate—Whitmire was running for mayor of Houston in the November election—the lieutenant governor would replace him with a Republican.
Patrick has said on numerous occasions that he wants to stay out of the House of Representatives, but has suggested there could be conflict if conservative Senate precedence is delayed in a Democratic-led House committee.
“If a Democrat somewhere controls a large committee and we can’t introduce a bill, that’s a problem,” Patrick said. “This is problem.”
In addition to the 2026 election, Patrick spoke in the 2024 presidential election, in which he supported former President Donald Trump’s bid for a comeback. Patrick, who has led both previous Trump campaigns in Texas, was asked about the potential candidacy of Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor who has emerged as Trump’s biggest threat in the primary.
“I just don’t know Ron DeSantis,” Patrick said, before briefly praising his Florida governorship. “I can’t say anything bad about him – I think he did a really good job – but I’m a Trump supporter.”