Grassroots Activist Seeks Lieutenant Governor Seat

Senate Chamber of Texas
Texas Senate chambers. | Image by aimintang

As someone who has worked as a grassroots activist for some thirteen years, Tracye Bradford had never intended to run for office, but last summer, when she received a recruitment phone call, she decided to consider the possibility. In August 2021, Bradford announced her candidacy for Lieutenant Governor of Texas against incumbent Dan Patrick.

“In the past when I was asked, I had younger kids, but this time there was some legislation that was very troubling to me, and what everybody walked through with the shutdown and how that was handled by the Lieutenant Governor,” Bradford told The Dallas Express. “I said yes because somebody has to push discussions.”

A Republican, Bradford faces steep competition in the upcoming March 1 primary from four men, including Daniel Miller, Zach Vance, Todd Bullis, and Aaron Sorrells. But Bradford is undeterred.

“We’ve all gotten along pretty well,” she said. “A lot of us believe the same things. It’s when you start breaking down experience or policy ideas that we’re different. I’ve always worked with men. I worked for Promise Keepers on their board and I always feel like I’m their equal.”

In addition to working with the Promise Keepers, a national Christian men’s organization, Bradford is national chair of the Texas Eagle Forum, a pro-family grassroots organization.

“I have a business degree from A&M but I actually have been a homeschool mother for the last 23 years and during that time, I was also a full-time activist volunteer who has been going to Austin since 2011,” she said. “I know how our legislative process works.”

If elected, one of Bradford’s priorities will be to address education.

“I really care about what’s happening to our children and whether they are being taught those basic skills that will set them up for their future or are we shoveling a lot of money into excess programs and putting teachers under more pressure to do mental health assessments in the classroom,” she said. “Are they having to figure out what gender they are? I’m getting phone calls about it from teachers or their friends and they are afraid. They want to know what they can do.”

The Lieutenant Governor is one of the most powerful elected officials in Texas. He determines which pieces of legislation move in the Senate, according to Jaime Puente, a policy analyst with Every Texan, a nonpartisan nonprofit.

“If you want to have a large impact on the future of public education in Texas, the Lieutenant Governorship is probably one of the most important elected offices that you can seek precisely because that office has so much power to determine which pieces of legislation get a hearing or even get referred to committee,” Puente told The Dallas Express.

Bradford plans to use that power to sway the direction of education.

“It matters that drugs are coming across the border and of course we want to fight trafficking,” she said. “We should have been doing it a lot harder and faster a long time ago but I’m concerned because every day there is something new that’s coming at our kids in school and that’s not an easy fix, but we have to draw the line somewhere and start. If we keep kicking the can down the road, all we’re doing is adding more programs.”

Bradford’s platform also includes securing the border.

Gregg Abbott declared the border a security disaster on May 31, 2021. It was renewed on January 22, according to a statement online.

“We were down there and I literally watched [unlawful migrants] walk up and smile and they were waved up,” Bradford said. “They were not running in fear. They just sauntered up and the National Guard opened the fence for them, helped them through and they’re breaking the law. Our troops are helping.”

Bradford said she might address the issue by creating a task force and continually speaking publicly about it until the governor calls a special session.

“A task force is great if you have the right people on it,” she said. “Too many times, those are made up of the inner circle or donors. Other than that, a task force can be an effective tool.”

Previously, there was the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Border Security, but it has been renamed the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs, according to a press release.

It should be noted that Lt. Governor Dan Patrick in turn created a new Senate committee solely for border security. State Senators Bob Hall (R), Juan Hinojosa (D), and Brian Birdwell (R) have been appointed to the committee, with Birdwell serving as chair.

However, one of Bradford’s GOP competitors believes another committee is not necessary to effect change at the border more immediately.

“There’s lots of things we could be doing that we are not doing,” said Aaron Sorrells, who is campaigning for the Lieutenant Governor seat as a Republican. “It’s not just an invasion. It’s a humanitarian crisis. There are women and children being trafficked every day across that border. It’s disgusting.”

“We don’t need another committee,” Sorrells told The Dallas Express. “We just need to fund the organizations we already have. We have our own state guard. We are allowed to do our own militia. We have the ability to fund our border wall. If you want to dodge the federal authority, then you can go on state land and dodge the federal land and push the wall in. We have the right to protect our state freeways from the mass transportation of illegals through DOT buses, federal buses, on our state highways.”

Michelle Beckley, who is campaigning for Lieutenant Governor as a Democrat, agrees that there are issues at the border. However, she alleges they are caused by climate change and that the border falls under federal jurisdiction.

“The state needs to work with the federal government,” Beckley told The Dallas Express. “We need to change our mindset and deal with it as a mass migration. These are families. These aren’t rapists and whatever the Republican party wants to label them. These are people who can’t live in their countries. It’s Haitian refugees who are fleeing from earthquakes. We keep having hurricanes in Central America that are just demolishing all of these cities, towns, and countries. It’s all these combinations of things.”

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