Dewhurst about to take a huge fall … maybe

If the Texas Monthly blogger and editor Paul Burka is right, Texas is about to witness one of the more stunning political collapses in recent memory.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is in a runoff for his job with state Sen. Dan Patrick. The two Republicans finished at the top of a four-man primary field earlier this month. The runoff is set for May 27.

Burka thinks Dewhurst is toast.

If it comes to pass and Patrick wins the runoff, Dewhurst’s fall from the pinnacle will be felt and heard all across the state.

It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

Dewhurst burst onto the state political scene when he was elected land commissioner in 1998. He parlayed that victory into a successful campaign for lieutenant governor in 2002. He then was going to bide his time while awaiting the retirement of one of our state’s U.S. senators. That opportunity came in 2012 when Kay Bailey Hutchison stepped aside.

Dewhurst then had his head handed to him by a young upstart named Ted Cruz, who took him to a runoff in the 2012 Republican primary and then defeated Dewhurst in the runoff. Cruz managed to outflank Dewhurst on the right and won the hearts and minds of the conservative wing of the GOP, which was enough to carry him to victory in the 2012 fall election.

Now, Dewhurst is in trouble again.

He has governed as a moderate. I guess, though, he took a vow never to be “Cruzed” again, so he’s staked out some tough positions on immigration, on public education funding, on the Affordable Care Act — and has looked totally uncomfortable trying to sell himself as a new incarnation.

The Dewhurst I’ve known and covered for years has been extremely detail-oriented and has managed to outwork just about everyone in state government. That was his big selling point.

Patrick then came along, finishing first in the primary and apparently is poised to win the GOP nomination.

I’m not sure how Dewhurst is going to pull this runoff out. The other two GOP primary candidates, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, haven’t endorsed anyone yet. Maybe their endorsement of Dewhurst could pull a few thousand votes into the incumbent’s column. Neither Patterson or Staples seem all that enamored of Patrick, who’s the fiery one of the bunch.

The mighty do fall hard in Texas. It’s looking as though the next big hitter just might be about to hit the deck.