The bi-partisan support group for public schools, Texas Parent PAC, which endorses legislative candidates of both major parties, for the first time endorsed two candidates for statewide office.

The group, which was formed in 2005 with a goal of electing more state legislators who would advocate for public education, on Oct. 4 endorsed Democrats Mike Collier for lieutenant governor and Justin Nelson for attorney general.

“Texas Parent PAC is delighted to endorse Mike Collier for lieutenant governor," said Dinah Miller of Dallas, a member of the group's board of directors. "Collier is a leader who will provide Texas children with top-notch public schools in every neighborhood and in every city and town in Texas."

She said, "The incumbent, Dan Patrick, rules the Texas Senate with an iron fist to promote his personal agenda. Patrick stops good education legislation and pushes to pass bills that would harm our schools.”

Miller, a co-founder of the Parent PAC, said the group was endorsing Nelson because incumbent Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton hurts rather than helps public schools.

Paxton and Patrick, the group says, support school vouchers, allowing parents to send their children to private schools financed with public education money.

“Using the power of the attorney general's office, Ken Paxton harasses school administrators and elected school board members,” Miller said. “He uses intimidation tactics to stifle efforts to encourage voting by school staff and 18-year-old high school students.”

Collier, a Houston businessman who lost his 2014 race as the Democratic nominee for comptroller in 2014, said Republican Patrick is doing the opposite of what he should be.

Patrick, a conservative Houston radio talk show host who spent several years as a state senator before his election in 2014 to preside over the body, "was elected to rein in property taxes, fix school funding, and protect Texas’ standing in the business community. Instead, he did the opposite," Collier said. "He ignored schools while letting property taxes skyrocket. He wasted everyone’s time on the so-called 'Bathroom Bill.'

"This disturbing and discriminatory legislation would threaten transgender people’s health and participation in public life," Collier said. "The business community was repulsed by Patrick’s bizarre obsession with potties."

Attorney general candidate Nelson, as he usually does, brought up that Paxton is under indictment. "We need a real lawyer as Texas attorney general, not my opponent who is currently indicted for fraud and faces decades in prison," said Nelson, an Austin lawyer and adjunct professor at the University of Texas law school.

"We need a Texas attorney general who will enforce the law, including the right to public education guaranteed by the Texas Constitution, not one who breaks it," Nelson said. "I will be a check on power, not a rubber stamp."

The Parent PAC group has also endorsed a mix of Democratic and Republican legislative contestants, including 27 incumbents and 27 first-time candidates.

The group did not, however, endorse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez – despite the fact she opposes school vouchers, while Republican Gov. Greg Abbott supports them.

The group says the former Dallas County sheriff's campaign for statewide office is too weak.

“She doesn’t meet our criteria for endorsement,” said group spokesperson Miller. “You’ve got to have a really good campaign put together and she just doesn’t have the campaign infrastructure.”

The group won't endorse Abbott, either.

Nelson, incidentally, recently won the Houston Bar Association's Judicial Preference Poll. The organization says that does not constitute an endorsement.

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