A Democrat who came within five points of unseating GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in 2018 said in Weatherford last week he's in a better position this election cycle to take the office, which sets the agenda for the Texas Senate.
"And I've had a lot of Republicans come up and say Dan Patrick is not doing what he's supposed to do," Mike Collier said.
Collier, 60, said Patrick neglected issues such as water infrastructure needs, property tax reduction and assuring that another Arctic air blast doesn't wreak havoc on the state's energy grid like one did last February.
His language gets a little salty when he mentions the power grid, which lacked weatherization to withstand sub-zero temperatures that descended on Valentine's Day and left more than 4.8 million Texas homes without electricity.
Reports of the resulting death toll varied from 151 to as many as 700.
"Well, we have to fix the damn grid," he said, calling its potential continued failure "probably the worst economic development calamity" for its impact on luring companies to Texas.
"He sets the legislative agenda," Collier said of Patrick. "He did not let them work on fixing the grid. He did not let them work to help teachers. He focused on these social issues."
Those issues include a severe restriction on legal abortions and an elections overhaul described by critics as a voter suppression bill.
Two bills affecting the power grid require inspections of power plants and fines of up to $1 million if facilities are not adequately prepared for extreme weather. However, the new laws allow gas fuel companies, which feed non-coal burning power plants, to escape expensive weatherization unless they are deemed 'critical' infrastructure by state regulators.
Critics also say the grid bills failed to provide help for residents to weatherize their own homes, or to help electric customers recoup from extremely high bills resulting from the statewide ice storm.
Collier asks a typical challenger's question when campaigning: are you better off than you were four years ago?
"And they say, no," he said. "And there's a reason for that, and it's that folks like Dan Patrick are not doing their job. People are a lot less happy."
Collier said he's yet to hear of any fellow Democrats lining up for the lieutenant governor's race. He also indicated he's pleased with fundraising efforts that have attracted $1 million from 7,500 donors, contrasting the figure to about $4,000 he'd raised at this stage of the previous campaign.
"I'm not going to take any corporate (political action committee) money," he added. "At least one person ought to be lieutenant governor who is working for Texans."
Collier accused the incumbent of "playing games with this border issue," of spending billions of state dollars with "no accountability. We can't blame the federal government -- it's our state, it's our border. … A big part of the problem is infrastructure. When people come to the border, we have to have infrastructure to handle it."
The candidate also said he's able to work with Republicans, who are very likely to continue their majority in the Texas Legislature come January 2023, to address problems.
"We might have different points of view on how to solve them," he said. "But, at least we'll be working on the problems. … The lieutenant governor has tremendous influence on the development of statewide policy."
Collier has been married 32 years to his wife, Suzanne, whom he met at the University of Texas. The couple have two grown sons, Michael and Christopher, respectively an engineer in San Antonio and a computer consultant in Austin.