I should be moving on, looking forward . . . but I cannot stop gnashing my teeth over the way Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick treated a man I respect and for whom I also have a fair amount of personal affection.
I refer to state Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo, who belongs to the same Republican Party as Patrick, except they’re both Republicans in name only.
Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, decided to remove Seliger from a key committee chairmanship, Higher Education. He also took him off the Education Committee, and put him in charge of the newly formed Senate Agriculture Committee. Then he yanked him out of the Ag Committee chairmanship after Seliger made an impolite remark about a key Patrick aide.
Why did Patrick seek to punish West Texas — which Seliger has represented since 2004? I keep rolling around some theories. I’ve come up with one that I think makes sense.
Seliger has too many Senate friends who happen to be Democrats. Patrick doesn’t enjoy that kind of bipartisan camaraderie.
I remember not long after Seliger was first elected to the Senate in 2004 when he began talking about the friendships he had forged with Democrats. He would mention Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, a South Texas Democrat, as a colleague with whom he would work on legislation.
A Dallas Morning News article published a few weeks ago noted that Democratic senators think highly of Seliger. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, is considered one of Seliger’s best friends in the Senate. Another Democratic senator, Royce West of Dallas, also spoke highly of Seliger in the Dallas Morning News feature.
Does the lieutenant governor — a fiery TEA Party conservative — get that kind of love from across the aisle? I have the strong feeling he does not.
I don’t know if Lt. Gov. Patrick is prone to petty jealousy. However, I cannot rule it out, as I don’t know the man; I only know of him and know of the highly partisan legislation he likes to push through the Senate.
Sen. Seliger isn’t wired that way. He calls himself a proud conservative. He pushes for local control and doesn’t like the state meddling in matters that are best decided by local governing bodies.
Seliger also is a champion of public education; Patrick favors vouchers funded by tax money to send students to private schools.
Sen. Seliger also stood as a bulwark in favor of the Texas Tech University school of veterinary medicine planned for Amarillo. I am not at all sure what Patrick feels about that, but his removal of Seliger from the Higher Ed Committee chair has the potential of putting the vet school in some jeopardy.
I hope for the best for West Texas. I also hope Seliger rises to the occasion and is able to have his voice heard despite being stripped of political power.
Indeed, Sen. Seliger might need to reach across the aisle now more than ever.