Beaumont man announces run for Texas governor

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NAACP Beaumont chapter president the Rev. Michael Cooper on Thursday launched his third bid in three years for statewide office.

He chose the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Park to announce his plans to run for Texas governor in 2023.

Cooper pledged an education-focused campaign based on increasing teacher pay, doing away with standardized testing as a teaching tool for all and giving more attention to the mental health needs of students. The latter is especially important, he said, because so many young people have have had limited contact with other people during the pandemic.

“I want to make sure our teachers come first because our children come first,” he said.

Cooper also addressed his Democratic primary defeats in races for lieutenant governor in 2018, when he lost to Mike Collier by nearly 5 percentage points, and for the U.S. Senate last year. In that race, he garnered 5% of the votes in a crowded Democratic field.

“I’m not a newcomer to challengers,” he said. “A lot of people say, ‘What is he thinking?’ I’m thinking about the people.”

Cooper said those earlier campaigns gave him an opportunity to build name recognition and get to know more people while crisscrossing the state.

But even when not on stump, he said, he was motivated by the educational needs of Texans.

He said he considered running for school board a few years ago, but felt that would not have enough influence. He hasn’t run for a city or county office, either.

“I realized I needed to go to Austin,” he said.

Cooper said his platform also will include a focus on vaccinating students and teachers for the coronavirus and improving the state’s economy.

He identified himself as “an independent who runs as a Democrat,” but stressed that he does not want to be a Democratic governor or a Republican one.

Instead, he hopes to promote unity.

“I want to be the leader everyone wants to follow,” Cooper said.

kaitlin.bain@whlhjz.com

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