Tag Archives: Dan Patrick

Creationism vs. Evolution: Where’s the conflict?

Three of the four Republicans running for lieutenant governor are tripping over each other in the rush to pander to the extreme right wing of their party.

The issue this time is creationism. Should it be taught in our state’s public schools? Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and state Sen. Dan Patrick say “yes.” Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson stopped short of that declaration.


They traveled to Waco the other day to debate among themselves. By golly, three-fourths of them are creationists. They believe in the biblical version of Earth’s creation and they want it taught in public schools.

Me? I think creationism should be taught in Sunday school, in church where people worship their faith — where I worship my faith.

Even though Patterson didn’t jump on the creationism bandwagon directly in Waco, he said this: “Show me where that’s in the Constitution, because it’s not in the Constitution. I see nothing wrong with standing up at least for a moment of silence, let those who wish to pray pray in their own faith. I see nothing wrong with having a prayer before a high school football game.”

Well, I believe the First Amendment is pretty clear that Congress shall make no laws establishing a state religion. I do agree with him, however, that prayer before a high school football game doesn’t violate the Constitution, if someone other than a public school administration calls for it.

Creationism is a tenet of one’s faith. Evolution is science, backed up by mountains of empirical evidence. One should be taught in church, the other should be taught in publicly funded school classrooms.

Here’s where it gets sticky, in my view. I do not see any contradiction in the two notions.

Creationism, according to my reading of the Bible, does not stipulate that God created the Universe in six calendar days.

Therefore, I do not see the contradiction between what Scripture tells us and what scientists have uncovered relating to the evolution of the universe.

Am I less of a believer in God than my friends who interpret Scripture differently? I think not.


When did state impose property tax?

State Sen. Dan Patrick is making some grand promises as he runs for Texas lieutenant governor.

One of them involves his vow to cut property taxes for homeowners if he gets elected next year. Thanks for making the promise, senator. How are you going to deliver on it?


His new TV ad doesn’t spell out how the lieutenant governor — who presides over the Texas Senate — can cut property taxes.

I watched the ad and pulled out my latest property tax statement from the Randall County Tax Collector-Assessor’s Office. Here’s what I noticed:

I pay taxes to the City of Amarillo, Amarillo College, Randall County, the Canyon Independent School District and the Randall High Plains Water District. Locally elected boards and commissions set every one of those rates. State law allows me to exempt $15,000 of my home value from CISD taxes, for which I am grateful. I’ll be able to freeze my property taxes when I turn 65, which is just around the corner. I thank the state for that, too.

Patrick, one of four major Republicans seeking the lieutenant governor’s job, offers a tantalizing sound bite in his latest ad. I’m waiting, though, to hear just how he intends to usurp local governing authorities’ power to reduce my property taxes.

Maybe he believes the lieutenant governor’s is even more powerful than everyone thought.

Immigration becoming signature Texas issue?

I am beginning to sense a centerpiece issue emerging in the race for Texas lieutenant governor.

The issue is immigration and it may reveal which of the four major Republican candidates for the state’s No. 2 elected office will become the most effective demagogue on it.


Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is one of the Big Four. He served in the state Senate, representing an East Texas district. He has become entangled in a vote he reportedly cast in 2001 to allow immigrants to use foreign passports and birth certificates as valid identification to obtain a Texas driver’s license.

Staples says he doesn’t remember casting such a vote. Really, commissioner? If you did, then it’s on the record in some form.

He now says such allowances are a “grave mistake” and he opposes them.

The other three GOP big dogs — state Sen. Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — also are running as quickly as they can from another issue: allowing those who came into Texas as children of those who entered the state illegally in-state tuition rates to attend public colleges and universities.

Patrick ripped that can of worms wide open when he said he is the “only candidate” to oppose such a thing. The other three pounced on him for that declaration; Patterson called him a “liar.” Dewhurst said he’s never supported in-state tuition for undocumented residents.

I happen to think these men are acting like disgusting demagogues on this issue. I believe granting such a waiver is humane and compassionate. So does Gov. Rick Perry, whose support for the waiver got him in trouble as he campaigned briefly for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

Immigration reform well might determine just how strong the tea party influence is within the Texas Republican Party. Dewhurst learned the hard way when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012 when he got “Cruzed” by the guy who beat him in the primary, Sen. Ted Cruz. Dewhurst, who I once thought was a serious and studious politician, is now turning hard right on immigration to avoid getting outflanked yet again.

Perhaps another signature issue will emerge. For now, I’m thinking it’s going to be immigration.

It’s going to get ugly.

Immigrants’ tuition becomes key issue

I am appalled at the four major Republican candidates for Texas lieutenant governor.

First, state Sen. Dan Patrick runs an ad alleging he is the “only” candidate for that office who opposes in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. Not true, say the other three.

The incumbent lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, says he’s never supported in-state tuition for these students; Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who served in the Senate and voted for the issue in 2001, now says he opposes it; Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has called Patrick a liar and says he never backed the issue.


These guys make me sick.

The only prominent Texas Republican who stands out on this issue is Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry and other immigration reformers have supported granting in-state tuition privileges to Texas high school graduates and college applicants who happened to have moved here as children of parents who came here illegally.

It wasn’t their fault that their parents entered the state without legal documentation. They merely grew up and came of age as Texans. They attended high school, they graduated and applied for entrance into a Texas college or university. They have been accepted and plan to continue their lives as productive residents of the only place they’ve known as home.

Why punish these young people because of something their parents did?

Yet, we hear now from the four GOP candidates for Texas lieutenant governor that none of them supports this compassionate measure. They’re trying to out-menace each other at the expense of young Texans seeking to make good lives for themselves.


Patrick seeks more partisan Senate

There can be no misunderstanding — zero, none — of what state Sen. Dan Patrick wants to do to the Texas Senate if Texans elect him lieutenant governor next month.

He wants to destroy the bipartisan atmosphere that often has helped govern the state’s upper legislative chamber. That effort, in my view, would be a bad thing for Texas.

Texas Tribune editor in chief Evan Smith’s interview with Patrick revealed the senator’s plans quite clearly.


Patrick is running against the incumbent, David Dewhurst, as well as against Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples in a crowded Republican primary. I cannot predict who will win this contest, but it’s looking more and more as though Dewhurst is among the underdogs in the fight for the man’s own seat.

Patrick recently chastised Dewhurst for selecting six Democrats to chair the Senate’s 18 committees, which is roughly proportional to the number of Democrats serving in the Senate. The count today is 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. Dewhurst, therefore, has doled out chairmanships fairly, correct? Not so, says Patrick, R-Houston, who told Smith he might place, oh, maybe two Democrats in chairmanships … or he may select none for the 2015 Legislature.

Dewhurst, to his discredit, failed to fight back against that criticism, suggesting in a gutless response instead that the Democrats he placed in chairmanships led committees of little legislative consequence.

The lieutenant governor, whether it was Dewhurst, or Rick Perry before him, or Bob Bullock or Bill Hobby, all strived to maintain a semblance of collegiality and bipartisanship in the Senate, over which the lieutenant governor presides. That’s why they cross party lines to place senators from the “other” party in key leadership roles. Dewhurst and Perry, both Republicans, have been faithful to that tradition, as were Bullock and Hobby, two Democrats.

That spirit also has produced the two-thirds rule, which requires any bill to have at least 21 votes before it is decided by a full Senate vote. Many Republican senators, such as Kel Seliger of Amarillo, have said they support the two-thirds rule.

Patrick does not appear to have any notion of preserving that collegial spirit in the Senate.

For my money, that’s one key reason why he shouldn’t be elected lieutenant governor of Texas.

What’s up with Dewhurst?

What in the world is happening to Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst?

The one-time giant of Texas politics — the guy who came out of nowhere to become Texas land commissioner in 1998 — and has been elected three times as the state’s lieutenant governor — is looking and sounding like a floundering underdog in his race for re-election next year.


Now he’s singling out state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who’s pondering whether to run for governor next year.

A new poll suggests Dewhurst isn’t the favorite in a four-person Republican primary race for lieutenant governor. Blogger and Texas Monthly editor Paul Burka thinks Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is the man to beat in the primary. Dewhurst might end up third in that four-person race.

Dewhurst cracked to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial board that the state likely will be asking next year “why were we talking about Wendy Davis?” Burka wrote this: “What he should be worried about is whether people will be saying, about a year from now, ‘Why were we talking about David Dewhurst?’ As for Davis’s prospects in a general election race, they depend upon whether she can make inroads among Republican women in the suburbs. Getting picked on by a man is a good way to start.”

Burka’s commentary reminded a bit of the shabby treatment that Republican gubernatorial nominee Clayton Williams gave Democratic nominee Ann Richards in that fiery 1990 governor’s race. The two of them appeared together at a function as the campaign drew to a close. They shared a dais. Richards walked over the Williams and extended her hand. Claytie refused to take her hand, calling her a liar because of things she said in a campaign ad about her opponent. The snub was seen all across the state and as a few pundits said at the time, Williams managed to offend Texans’ traditional view that men treat women with courtesy and respect. That act of rudeness — plus Claytie’s infamous “sit back and enjoy it” comment about rape — sealed his fate. Richards was elected governor.

Dewhurst’s star has been falling. He got steamrolled in the first of three special legislative sessions — by Sen. Davis, of course, in that well-documented filibuster of an anti-abortion bill. Let us remember, too, that he lost the GOP U.S. Senate primary race in 2012 to that upstart loudmouth Ted Cruz, who painted Dewhurst as some kind of squishy moderate. Dewhurst has been trying to out-Cruz everyone in Texas ever since — and he doesn’t do it with much grace.

Dewhurst has his hands full trying to hold his office next year. Staples, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston all are challenging him in the primary.

A year ago I would have bet on Dewhurst beating them all. I’m not so sure now.

Dewhurst throws weight around

If you’re a police officer and someone calls you and then declares he’s the lieutenant governor of the state, then you’re going to give that person a little extra attention.

Such was the case recently when Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst placed a call to the Allen Police Department on behalf of a member of his family who had gotten into a little scrape with the law.


The family member was a step-sister’s daughter-in-law who had been accused of shoplighting from a local Kroger grocery store.

Really bad call, Gov. Dewhurst.

There’s an intimidation factor that needs to considered here. When you’re a police sergeant and the lieutenant governor calls and then introduces himself as the state’s second-highest-ranking elected official, you’re going to be rendered a bit skittish. You won’t necessarily act with all the cool and detached professionalism we should expect from law enforcement officers.

Dewhurst demanded to speak to the sergeant’s supervisor and then sought the cellphone number of the Collin County judge. The call, by the way, was made at 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

Dewhurst’s opponents in next year’s lieutenant governor’s race — Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston — all have pounced on Dewhurst for this apparent abuse of authority.

Dallas Morning News blogger Ralph De La Cruz said it well. The call showed bad judgment “because a high-profile politician should never make that call. For one, it’s recorded. But more importantly, any self-respecting pol knows: you call a supporter or agency appointee, and have THEM call Allen PD.”

Dewhurst puts on brass knuckles

Texas’s most interesting political contest in 2014 is going to be for lieutenant governor.

Bet on it.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has announced his plans to seek re-election for a fourth term to what used to be considered the state’s most powerful office. Rick Perry’s forever-long tenure as governor took care of that, as the Pride of Paint Creek redefined the governor’s office and made it No. 1 on the state’s political pecking order.


Dewhurst, though, wants to take back that role … or so it seems. He’ll have a crowded field of Republican primary challengers to fend off. Land Commissioner Jerry “The Gun Guy” Patterson is in the field; so is Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples; and the most recent participant is state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston.

It occurs to me that three of them — Dewhurst, Patterson and Patrick — all hail from the greater Houston area. Just sayin’.

In Dewhurst’s vision of a perfect world, he wouldn’t be there. He’d be in the U.S. Senate. He ran into a right-wing attack dog in Ted Cruz in the 2012 GOP primary, who then beat Dewhurst in the runoff, spoiling the odds-on favorite’s chances to join to the Senate “club.”

Dewhurst became the victim of what’s become a newly coined verb. He was “Cruzed” in the primary. I’m betting he won’t let that happen again as he runs for re-election.

The lieutenant governor’s contest race is going to be fun to watch.