Tag Archives: Dan Patrick

Dewhurst is a goner?

Paul Burka thinks Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is dead meat, politically.

The Texas Monthly blogger and editor is reporting that at least two key Dewhurst staffers have jumped ship on the eve of the Texas Republican runoff for lieutenant governor. Dewhurst is facing state Sen. Dan Patrick, who finished first in the GOP primary on March 4, but didn’t get the 50 percent majority he needed for an outright primary victory.


Burka said Dewhurst is having trouble connecting with voters. He can’t energize them, speak from his heart.

I know a bit about that. I’ve known Dewhurst since he broke on the Texas political scene by winning the race for land commissioner back in 1998.

You can say what you will about the guy, he is detail-oriented — in the extreme.

I recall interviewing him one time and asking a general question about some legislation under consideration. He launched into the most excruciatingly detailed explanation possible about every little tidbit known to humankind relating to that bill. I suspect that’s how he’s talking to Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Texan out there as he seeks to hold on to his office.

I do hate seeing his career end on such a downer, if that’s what is going to happen in the May 27 runoff. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, sad to say, is looking like a goner.

Lt. gov. runoff will tell us plenty about Texas GOP

The upcoming runoff between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick is going to send a stark message about the state of the Texas Republican Party.

If Dewhurst wins the runoff — which is beginning to look unlikely — the so-called “establishment wing” of the state party will have fended off a major uprising with the GOP ranks. If Patrick wins, well, Katy bar the door.


It still is a bit of a stunner to me that Dewhurst is in this position. He lost the U.S. Senate Republican primary contest in 2012 to Ted Cruz. He then staked out a far more conservative posture during the 2013 Texas legislative session, seeking to avoid another challenge from his right. It didn’t work, as Patrick emerged as the favorite to defeat Dewhurst in the runoff set for May 27.

Dewhurst is an establishment kind of guy. He’s wealthy, well-connected with big-time donors and has shown an ability to work with Texas Senate Democrats as well as Republicans. He’s a conservative, but under the new rules that define conservatism, he isn’t conservative enough.

Patrick is another kind of Republican. He’s thrown down the gauntlet to moderates within his party and to Democrats that, by golly, Texas is a conservative state and he intends to run the state Senate that way. He has blasted Dewhurst for giving key Senate committee chairmanships to Democrats.

It appears to be working. Patrick is a pistol and he’s firing live political ammo at the other guy constantly.

If Dewhurst can hold on to this party’s nomination, he’ll get to face one of his Senate colleagues, Democrat Leticia Van de Putte, in the fall. I am not familiar with their relationship, but something tells me he’ll be a kinder, gentler Republican nominee than Patrick.

If it’s Patrick vs. Van de Putte, look for another kind of fall campaign altogether.

My choice in this runoff? I’m going to pull for Dewhurst.

Who will also-rans endorse for lt. gov.?

Jerry Patterson and Todd Staples are feeling a bit stung these days.

Patterson, the state land commissioner, and Staples, the Texas agriculture commissioner, finished out of the running in the four-man race for Texas lieutenant governor. But they both still might have something to say about who Texas Republicans should nominate in the May 27 runoff.


They talked to the Texas Tribune about their campaigns and their futures.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is facing state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston in the runoff to see who will run this fall against Democratic nominee state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio.

It’s going to be a bitter fight all the way to runoff voting day.

How might Patterson and/or Staples affect the outcome? They could endorse one of the two runoff foes.

My guess is that Dewhurst would get the nod, given that Patrick managed to anger Patterson and Staples with some pretty mean-spirited campaign ads during the primary.

What’s more, both the land commissioner and the agriculture commissioner have worked with Dewhurst as statewide elected officials. It’s kind of a clubby atmosphere among statewide officeholders.

Patrick could be seen as the fiery outsider in this foursome.

I don’t know what Patterson and Staples will do. I don’t know either of them well enough to predict how or whether they’ll make endorsements in this contest.

They’ll wait a suitable length of time before making their decisions, either because they don’t yet know what they’ll do or because they want to generate maximum political impact on this important contest.

Stay tuned.

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.

Illegal immigrants show up at wrong place

Here we go again.

A politician known for being tough on illegal immigrants apparently has been caught hiring them himself.

Tsk, tsk.

Texas state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, is one of four men seeking the Republican nomination for Texas lieutenant governor. He has talked about how tough he’d be on undocumented immigrants. He’d ship ’em out of Texas, by golly.


It turns out he reportedly hired them to work at his Houston sports bar way back in the 1980s. The Dallas Morning News reported it, talking to one of them who allegedly worked for Patrick back then. Patrick calls it dirty politics and blames one of his rivals for the lieutenant governor’s office, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, of playing dirty.

I know it’s an old story. Maybe the senator went through a change of heart since the days when perhaps he didn’t look as harshly at illegal immigrants as he does now.

Still, when you stake out a position as Patrick has done on illegal immigrants, you have to be sure you have nothing in your past you want to be kept secret.

Will these people ever learn?

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.