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The race for Texas lieutenant governor is heating up

Inside Texas Politics spoke to State Rep. Michelle Beckley, Dr. Carla Brailey and Mike Collier, who are all vying to unseat Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Race for lieutenant governor

Over the next few weeks, Inside Texas Politics will focus on some big primary races in the Democratic and Republican parties.

First up are the Democrats running to replace Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

The lieutenant governor is the second-highest job in Texas politics – and arguably the most influential, because that person decides which legislation lives and dies.

All three Democratic candidates spoke with Inside Texas Politics. Watch their interviews below, or click the links to read more from our conversations with them.

We start – alphabetically – with State Rep. Michelle Beckley from North Texas.

RELATED: Democratic state lawmaker says her experience gives her chance at Lieutenant Governor

Dr. Carla Brailey teaches at Texas Southern University and served as Vice-Chair of the Texas Democratic Party.

RELATED: Former TX Democratic Party Leader says she would represent all Texans as Lt. Governor

Mike Collier ran against incumbent Dan Patrick four years ago. Of the 8 million votes cast in that race, Collier came within 400,000 votes of winning. He is hoping for a rematch in November.

RELATED: Texas Democrat Mike Collier says he's well-positioned to win Lt. Governor race

Texas electric grid

The governor has said he can “guarantee” no more widespread power outages. However, natural gas production dropped during a recent cold wave. That is creating new concern, because natural gas is what fuels a lot of power plants.

The governor assured it will be fine. But energy experts say we remain at risk, and this drop in natural gas supply is making a lot of people uneasy.

Should they be concerned?

The Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey said he has his fingers crossed – like the rest of us – that we can make it through winter.

“This is the kind of dip in natural gas supply that we wouldn’t have even noticed last year, and this may go on every winter and Texans just blindly go on with their business. But after the polar vortex and the blackouts last February, everybody’s nervous about it. A lot of people in the electric industry and the energy business are saying that the state isn’t completely fortified against another occurrence, and, like you said, we’ve all got our fingers crossed.

Can the GOP win in Texas without Trump's support?

We just marked one year since the January 6th insurrection by hundreds of former President Donald Trump supporters.

What is the weight of his endorsements so far in the Texas primary?

Ramsey, with the Tribune, said Trump still is the most popular Republican in the party nationally, and the most popular Republican in Texas, and “anyone who actually crosses him is probably in trouble,” but not getting an endorsement might not kill their chances.

The new governor of Virginia won last fall without Trump. How likely is that here in any race, like Republicans running for Texas Attorney General?

Bud Kennedy with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said it could happen, because he thinks the former president’s endorsement is not “carrying that much weight.”

Berna Dean Steptoe, WFAA’s political producer, said “we won’t really know until election night,” but with candidates vying for Trump’s support, it still may be worth something.

Will Abbott's challengers gain momentum?

The Republicans campaigning against Gov. Greg Abbott are still trying to find momentum, mostly, Kennedy said, due to the fact that they’re not well-known to the general public. Steptoe said the news cycle is also not doing them any favors.

“There’s so much news going on, that they’re not going to get a lot of free publicity.”

As for their strategies moving forward?

“They’ve got to figure out a way to get Republican voters not only to know them, but to decide to vote against Greg Abbott, and that’s a pretty big hill to climb," Ramsey said.

Watch the full episode of Inside Texas Politics below: