Lt. gov. debate takes load road

State Sen. Dan Patrick got under Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s skin the other day at a debate that featured the four leading candidates for Dewhurst’s job as head of the Texas Senate.

Patrick, R-Houston, chastised Dewhurst for appointing too many Democrats to Senate committee chairmanships. Dewhurst’s response? He said he’s been reducing the bipartisan leadership ratio since becoming lieutenant governor and besides, he said, the Democrats who chair committees lead panels that aren’t “critical.”

That drew a sharp response from one of those inconsequential committee chairs, Leticia Van De Putte, D-San Antonio, who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Military Installation.

She wrote Dewhurst a blistering note criticizing the demeaning tone of his response to Patrick’s barb.

I guess my own view is that Patrick is wrong to lambaste the bipartisanship that still exists to some — but a shrinking — degree in the Senate. I’ve long thought of the Texas Senate as a place where Democrats and Republicans could work together and could share leadership roles on key committees.

Isn’t a panel that deals with veterans and military installations ostensibly a non-partisan group? Doesn’t it deal with issues that should wipe away partisan differences?

For the lieutenant governor, though, to try to outflank the loudmouth Patrick is equally shameful. I would have much preferred Dewhurst defending the bipartisanship that is demonstrated by handing out committee chairmanships to senators from the other party.

But no. He tacked far to the right to appeal to that right-wing GOP fringe that likely is going to determine who gets nominated next spring.

Very disappointing, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst.

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