Tag Archives: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

Still steamed over Sen. Seliger getting stiffed

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.

Texas Senate gives right-wing PAC special seat at press table

Do you want to know the crux of what has pi**** off a leading Texas senator about the way the state’s upper legislative chamber is being run?

Try this: Empower Texans, a right-wing political action group, has been given a ringside seat on the floor of the state Senate. Such groups usually are relegated to the upper floor along with the rest of the spectators who are curious about what’s happening in the Legislature.

In the Senate, which is run by an Empower Texans darling — GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — the group gets to look senators in the eye while they debate and cast their votes.

Trouble is brewing?

Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, said this, according to the Tribune Tribune: “They’re an advocacy organization and a political organization. Far more than anything else. That’s really their identity. They have a PAC and they contribute to candidates.”

Seliger knows Empower Texans well. He had to fend off a spirited Republican primary challenge in 2018 from two ultraconservative candidates. He won his party’s nomination outright anyway, which is to West Texas’s great benefit.

But the decision to allow this group of far-right-wing zealots onto the Texas Senate floor speaks volumes to me about the kind of place Lt. Gov. Patrick is creating. The Tribune reports that Empower Texans’ presence at the press table has angered some senators and ignited rancor early in the legislative session.

I’ve noted repeatedly in this blog about the feud that has erupted between Seliger, a senior GOP senator, and Patrick. Seliger’s legislative clout has been diminished by his removal from key Senate committees, namely the Higher Education and Education panels.

Now we hear that Empower Texans, an advocacy group that has taken aim at Senate moderates, such as Seliger, is getting to mix it up directly with legislators the group seeks to influence.

Seliger said the group’s status is “under review, as I think it ought to be. This is an easy call.”

Something is telling me the Texas Senate is going to become an unhappy place in this legislative session.

Patrick misfires on municipal government critique

Oh, that Dan Patrick. He needs a lesson in Civics 101.

The Texas lieutenant governor has now laid blame for “all the problems” facing America at the feet of mayors, the vast majority of whom he says are Democrats. Oh, did I mention that Patrick is a Republican? There. I just did.

Patrick told Fox Business News that Democrats have made such a mess of municipal government that cities’ woes are spilling over into other walks of life. He said citizens are happy with governments at the state level. The cities? They’ve gone to hell, thanks to Democrats, according to the sometimes-bombastic lieutenant governor.

Shall we offer the lesson now? Sure, why not?

I’ll concede that there are pockets of municipal dysfunction around the country that have occurred under the watch of mayors elected as Democrats. Is that an exclusively Democratic problem? No. It is not. Republican-run cities have fiscal and crime issues with which they must deal, too. They have potholes that need to be filled and street signals that need to function properly.

What’s more, many thousands of mayors and city council members are elected on non-partisan ballots. Partisanship has no place in municipal governance. Cities with home-rule charters are governed by those who set aside partisan differences and who seek to set policies based on community interests, not based on whether they have positive or negative impacts on certain neighborhoods based on partisan affiliation or leaning.

I’m reminded at this moment of an Amarillo mayoral race some years ago in which a challenger to then-Mayor Kel Seliger called on all “good Republicans” to elect her instead of the incumbent. Mary Alice Brittain sent out pamphlets imploring GOP voters to turn out that spring to oust the mayor.

I was working at the time as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News and we reminded our readers to turn their backs on the ignorant rants of that challenger, given that Amarillo is one of most Texas cities governed by non-partisan mayors and city council members.

Seliger won re-election that year by a huge margin; Brittain disappeared and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Dan Patrick is entitled to espouse his partisan bias. I understand he’s a faithful Republican officeholder. He’s got a tough job running the Texas Senate, which is meeting at the moment with the House of Representatives in a special session of the Legislature.

But, c’mon Dan! Knock off the broad-brush blame game against local government officials who are doing their best to cope with the problems facing every city in America regardless of party affiliation.

As the Texas Tribune reports: But “the fact that city elections are nonpartisan is one of the greatest things about city government,” said Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League. “We like to say that potholes aren’t Democratic or Republican… it costs the same amount regardless of ideology.” 

Patrick should know better. I fear he does not.

So much for gubernatorial wisdom

Thanks a heap, Gov. Greg Abbott.

You’ve called the Texas Legislature back into special session beginning July 18. And, by golly, you just had to add that idiotic “Bathroom Bill” to the call you’ve assigned to legislators.

Property tax reform? No problem with that. Sunset legislation? Sure thing. The Bathroom Bill? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Sure, you said you have some concern about protecting public school students who want to use restrooms. But please, governor, what is the threat? You want the state to require people to use bathrooms commensurate with the gender listed on their birth certificate.


My question persists. How is the state going to enforce that law? I suppose we can check the gender of students using restrooms, right? What are we going to do, make ’em show their, um, private parts?

I was among those hoping you’d limit the special session to issues that mattered a great deal to Texans. The Bathroom Bill — pushed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — does not qualify.

You have let me down, Gov. Abbott.

Lt. Gov. deletes tweet, but the damage is done


Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has demonstrated for the world just how immediate social media posts can become and how indelible they are once they are posted.

Patrick decided in the early hours after the Orlando, Fla., massacre to post something on Twitter that enraged some folks. It was New Testament passage, from Galatians 6:7 that declares: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

Why the anger over the post?

Well, the massacre occurred at a night club called Pulse, which is a popular hangout for Orlando’s gay community. The madman/shooter killed 50 people before he was killed by the police.

Omar Mateen was an American who reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before committing the horrifying act of carnage.

However, Patrick’s tweet seemed aimed at the victims. Fifty innocent victims were gunned down and he chose that particular verse to post on social media.

He took it down shortly afterward.

However, the damage was done. That’s what happens with these social media posts. They get posted and then are sent around the world many times instantaneously. As a friend used to tell me, “You cannot unhonk a horn.” Same with these social media posts.

Patrick’s spokesman said the tweet had been planned this past week. Patrick posts comments from Twitter weekly, the spokesman said. The passage from Galatians had no relation to the tragedy at Pulse.

I don’t know what to believe here.


At minimum, we have a terrible coincidence at work. Patrick’s social media message just happened to sound to many folks like a crass criticism in the wake of a horrific national tragedy.

Talk about terrible timing.

I’m glad he took the message down. However, I think it would be best if the lieutenant governor himself — not through a spokesman — would stand before us to explain how it happened in the first place.


Legislature bears some burden for tuition hikes


Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is angry with the state’s public higher education system.

He said the colleges and universities have increased tuition rates too rapidly in recent years. He said they have to stop doing so and pledges to “limit” tuition increases.


Well, hot-diggedy, Lt. Gov. Patrick. How might you do that?

Here’s an idea: How about ensuring the Texas Senate — over which you preside — provides substantial state support for Texas’ public higher education system? That might enable college presidents and university system chancellors and regents from having to implement tuition increases.

The Texas Panhandle’s state senator, Republican Kel Seliger of Amarillo, chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee. Here’s a chance for the lieutenant governor to team up with one of his lesser favorite lawmakers to do something for the students — and their parents.

There once was a time when public higher education was a tremendous bargain for Texas students and their parents. One of our sons attended a great public institution, Sam Houston State University, after he graduated from high school in 1991. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and the quality of his education at “Sam” helped him pursue a successful career in his field of study.

I do not recall what we paid in tuition in the early 1990s. I do know it was a lot less than what students are paying today.

The political environment in Austin has shifted over the years since then. The state ran into financial difficulty. Lawmakers scaled back spending in all quarters. Public education took a huge hit.

Colleges and universities sought to keep carrying out their mission, which is to provide a first-class education for students. They can’t do it for free.

I don’t like seeing huge tuition increases any more than the next guy. However, these institutions don’t operate in a vacuum. They need help from their financial backers, which includes the lawmakers who govern the state’s public higher education systems.

Lt. Gov. Patrick is now part of the problem. Sure, there are many legislative solutions to be found, as Patrick has noted. One of them ought to be to pony up some more money.

Education remains a high priority in Texas, correct?