Patrick and Hancock: men in the hot seat

Dan Patrick and Kelly Hancock are the top two officers in the Texas Senate and they both likely face the tasks of their political careers later this summer.

The Senate is going to convene a special session to begin a trial to determine whether Attorney General Ken Paxton should be tossed out of office after being impeached by the House this past week.

Patrick is the state’s lieutenant governor and he presides over the Senate. Hancock represents Senate District 9 in Fort Worth and is the Senate president pro tem. They’re Nos. 1 and 2.

Hancock prides himself on being a strong fiscal “small-government” conservative.” Patrick, well, considers himself to be a fire-breathing social conservative.

According to a political science professor at the University of Houston, Brandon Rottinghaus — an acknowledged expert on Texas government and politics — said in an email that he “isn’t sure exactly how they’ll do it or if they will share duties. But Patrick will decide all of the process/procedural questions.”

I am suspicious of Patrick, given what I know of him and his reputation for hyper-partisanship. He already has declared his support for Paxton, who stands accused of committing a series of serious ethical violations and is under criminal indictment for securities fraud. The House’s overwhelming vote to impeach the attorney general is a clear signal — at least it is to me — that many Republicans in government are fed up with Paxton’s behavior.

How this trial proceeds will depend on the manner that Patrick answers those “procedural questions” mentioned by Rottinghaus.

I hope he walks the straight and narrow path and disallows any bias to creep into these critical decisions.