Tag Archives: Leticia Van De Putte

An actual debating point emerges in state race

What’s this? An actual issue has been raised in the campaign for Texas lieutenant governor that gives the opponents something on which to debate — and no doubt disagree.

The issue has been broached by Democratic nominee state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who says the state ought to amend its constitution to allow use of the Rainy Day Fund to pay for public community college or technical college education for student.


It is an interesting idea worth a full-throated discussion between Van de Putte and Republican nominee, fellow state Sen. Dan Patrick.

As the Texas Tribune reports: “Under the scholarship requirements under her proposal, students would have to graduate from a Texas high school and qualify for in-state tuition. They would also be required to apply for federal or state financial assistance and apply those funds toward tuition and fees before receiving money from the Texas Promise program.”

Patrick’s campaign opposes it on the grounds that it spends too much money.

The way I figure it, the Rainy Day Fund is set aside to help pay for state programs. It’s money in the bank, drawing interest, earning income for the state. It’s money the state has on hand. Isn’t funding scholarships for public community college-bound students a worthy investment the state can make in its future?

I think it is. As the Tribune reports on Van de Putte’s response to Patrick’s opposition: “Van de Putte’s campaign emphasized that the program would not require imposing new taxes because it would be funded using interest from the $2 billion worth of existing funds that would be allocated to the Texas Promise fund if voters approve the constitutional amendment.”

Van de Putte has opened up a serious discussion topic that she and Patrick can debate openly, frankly, thoroughly and intelligently. The debate should give Texans a serious look at how these candidates line up on a key issue — higher education funding.

Turn out the lights

Paul Burka is right.

The Texas governor’s race is over. Done. Finis. History. Pfft.


Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis had a chance to make a fight of it. She’s choked.

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott is the heavy favorite anyway. Davis, as Burka noted, had a chance to knock the AG off track over secrecy of dangerous chemicals. Then she failed to capitalize.

I’ve noted already that the Democrats’ greatest chance to make inroads is in the race for lieutenant governor. State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte is a potentially much stronger candidate than Davis is for governor. What’s more, state Sen. Dan Patrick, the bombastic and fiery GOP nominee for light gov, is much more prone to self-destruction than the cautious and circumspect Abbott.

I was hoping Davis could make a race of it. With just three months to go before the November election, it now appears that Davis is going to get mugged by her Republican opponent.

For those of us who wish for a more competitive field at the top of the state election ballot, well … that’s too bad.

Split the power in Texas government

An acquaintance asked me the other day about my thoughts regarding the upcoming election for Texas governor.

“Does Wendy Davis have a chance?” he asked. I had to think about it for a moment. “Well, she has a chance, but not much of one,” I answered. The Democratic nominee for governor is likely to lose to Republican nominee Greg Abbott — if the election were held today.

My concern about Davis is that she doesn’t yet have a message that resonates with voters. For that matter, Abbott hasn’t yet found a theme, either, other than he’s a Republican running in a heavily Republican state.

Then the talk turned to the lieutenant governor’s campaign between Republican Dan Patrick and Democrat Leticia Van de Putte. “That race,” I suggested, “presents the Democrats a better chance.” Why? my acquaintance asked. “Because Patrick is more likely to self-destruct than Abbott,” I replied.

Will the fiery GOP candidate for lieutenant governor implode? Beats me.

But the effect of two-party control of the top of the state government would do the state well. It might produce some pretty good governance, as it did during the time when Republican George W. Bush was governor and Democrat Bob Bullock served as lieutenant governor.

Democrats still controlled the Legislature and Bush developed good working relationships with Bullock and House Speaker Pete Laney of Hale Center. There was no running over the other party the way we’ve seen in recent years — and when Democrats held all the power in the state prior to the state’s shift to GOP control.

I’m intrigued by the notion of a Democrat presiding over the Senate and a Republican serving as governor, although a Lt. Gov. Van de Putte would have limited influence over a body that is likely to comprise mostly Republicans after the November election.

Well, I guess we can look at the election in a certain way: A week is a lifetime in politics and since we’re still about three months away from the next election, anything can happen.

In Texas, “anything” has been known to occur.

For whom will Dewhurst vote?

My mind is wandering as I sit at my computer, so I thought I’d share this idle thought.

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is still suffering emotional wounds from his loss to state Sen. Dan Patrick in the lieutenant governor’s Republican runoff.

He knows Patrick well, having worked with him in the Texas Senate, over which Dewhurst presides as lieutenant governor.

Dewhurst also knows Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who is running against Patrick in the general election for lieutenant governor.

My idle thought? Who will get Dewhurst’s vote this fall?

I’m really in no position to ask Dewhurst directly. Even if I did, he wouldn’t answer. He does get to vote in secret, just like the rest of us. Heck, he might even lie about who he’ll vote for. None of us ever would know the difference.

My trick knee, though, suggests that Van de Putte stands at least a decent chance of getting at least one crossover vote from a Republican.

Patrick said some pretty mean things to and about Dewhurst in the primary and then in the runoff. That’s the nature of campaigns in many cases. Patrick, though, tried to suggest in so many words that Dewhurst is a closet liberal or moderate — or something other than a staunch conservative, which is how Dewhurst sought to portray himself.

Do these harsh things just disappear when all the votes are counted? I think not.

Just wondering out loud …

What's in a name, Sen. Van de Putte?

The Texas Tribune reports that state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte has a name identification issue.

She’s a Hispanic seeking to appeal to voters of similar ethnic persuasion. She doesn’t have a Hispanic name, however.

To counter that, she’s known to pepper her stump speeches while campaigning for Texas lieutenant governor with Spanish.


This is part of Van de Putte’s uphill climb to become the first Democratic lieutenant governor since Bob Bullock. Her foe in the November election is Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick, who defeated incumbent David Dewhurst in a bitter GOP runoff.

A candidate’s name is important in Texas politics. We’ve seen Hispanic candidates lose to less-qualified opponents simply because of their name. We occasionally see candidates appear on a ballot sporting famous — even legendary — Texas names. A guy named Sam Houston, for example, is running as a Democrat this year for state attorney general.

Van de Putte, though, wants to use her ethnicity to her advantage. With a large — and growing — Hispanic population voting overwhelmingly in her party’s favor, Van de Putte wants to mine that large reservoir of potential voters.

However, Van de Putte is walking a precarious tightrope. According to the Tribune: “In a recent interview, Van de Putte said it would be disrespectful to voters and Hispanics if she played up her heritage for political gain, and that she only intends to be genuine about her background despite perceptions of it being used as an outreach strategy.

“’It’s not a conscious effort to emphasize or play up my heritage,’ Van de Putte said. “It’s who I am.’”

What’s in a name? Plenty.

Dewhurst lost his good-government voice

Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka thinks that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst never understood the changing nature of the Texas Republican Party.

Thus, state Sen. Dan Patrick was able to beat him to become the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor.


I want to posit another notion. It is that Dewhurst lost his voice when he tried to outscream the far right wing of his party.

His former voice was one that endorsed good government. He tried to break into the ranks of the tea party wing of the GOP by sounding like them. It turned out he wasn’t very fluent in tea party-speak.

He said all those things about being tough on illegal immigration, about cutting taxes and fighting to abolish the Affordable Care Act. He just wasn’t very good at spouting that kind of rhetoric.

So now David Dewhurst is officially a lame duck. The 2015 Legislature will convene without him. Patrick or Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte will preside over the Senate.

Patrick speaks the tea party language. Van de Putte speaks the language of good government.

We’ll know in due course if the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor will be true to her own voice and her own set of principles. David Dewhurst lost his voice — and his way.

Texas turning blue? Maybe, but not soon

Texas Democrats think they have a shot at winning a statewide office this election year.

The governor’s race is not Opportunity One for Democrats. It’s the next race down on the ballot, the one for lieutenant governor, that’s giving Democrats some reason for hope.

I’m not sure about that optimism. Could be merely wishful thinking.


Then again …

The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston, is giving Democrats some early-campaign ammunition. How about when he said that undocumented immigrants are “invading” Texas? And how about his assertion that they’re bringing “Third World diseases” into the state?

Here is where Democratic political operatives are beginning to see some opportunity.

It rests with Patrick’s hot-blooded rhetoric that infuriates the state’s growing Latino population, which votes Democratic overwhelmingly. One big problem, though, remains for Democrats: Those new Texas residents vote in far fewer numbers than those who tend to support Republican candidates. I refer, of course, to the WASPs who turn out in far greater numbers.

Enter a group called Battleground Texas, which wants to break the Republican vise grip on every elected office in the state. This outfit wants to exploit the fiery stump talk from Patrick and turn it into a motive for Latinos to vote in greater numbers.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte is the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. She’s a pharmacist and a mother of six. She’s also a Latina. Is she the one who can crash through the GOP barrier? Texas Democrats think she’s the one.

Still, it’s a tall order for Van de Putte to succeed. Patrick is tough, relentless and he appeals to the state’s quite conservative voting base, which continues to outperform the state’s progressive base when all the votes are counted.

The top of the state ballot — with Republican Greg Abbott running against Democrat Wendy Davis for governor — remains strongly in favor of the GOP.

Given that the Texas lieutenant governor has more actual power than the governor, the second spot on the ballot ought to garner more attention, which suggests that Texas Democrats are going to channel more of their horsepower and resources into a race where a victory has the greater impact.

Seliger may be in a bind

Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger just might find himself in a tough spot as the general election campaign gets going full blast.

He’s an Amarillo Republican who’s already beaten back a stout challenge from his right. Former Midland Mayor Mike Canon lost narrowly to Seliger in the GOP primary in March. One of Canon’s top back-room advisers is a guy named Michael Quinn Sullivan, an arch-conservative activist who is believed to have talked Canon into running against Seliger.

The senator has no love — or even a modicum of “like” — for Sullivan. He’s said so publicly.

So, who do you think is one of Sullivan’s top stable horses this year? State Sen. Dan Patrick, the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, the guy who wants to preside over the Texas Senate where he and, oh yes, Seliger serve. Patrick faces a probable slugfest this fall running against Democratic nominee, another state senator, Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio.

Here’s the quandary.

Suppose Patrick ventures to the Texas Panhandle this summer and fall to look for votes. Who will appear with him on a stage, at a dinner dais, at a Labor Day picnic or a political rally at, say, Dick Bivins Stadium? Will it be the senator from Texas Senate District 31, who has a known disdain for one of Patrick’s main backers?

I tend to think not.

Whatever support Patrick gets from the Panhandle — and it will be substantial, given this region’s strongly Republican leanings — he’ll likely have to acquire it without Seliger’s help.

Unless, of course, Seliger changes his heart and mind and climbs aboard the Patrick bandwagon.

Don’t laugh. Politicians of both parties have been known over many years to have these “awakenings” when the spirit — and the thought of choice committee assignments — moves them.

Texas tea party stands tall

I always thought “Texas tea” referred to oil.

It now has a political connotation, as in “Texas tea party.” Ladies and gents, the tea party has taken the Texas Republican Party hostage. It has swallowed it whole and has produced a slate of statewide candidates that’ll make the hair stand up on some of us Texas residents.

Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka is one who is very afraid of what the future might hold.


I concur with his assessment.

He seems to be conceding the November election already to one tea party candidate in particular: state Sen. Dan Patrick, the Republican/tea party candidate for lieutenant governor.

I’m not yet ready to go there.

Democratic nominee, fellow state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, well could turn out to be the most formidable Democratic candidate on the statewide ballot. She’s Patrick’s opponent this fall. I’m going to wait until all the ballots are counted before declaring him the all-but-certain lieutenant governor.

Of all the assertions Burka makes, the most interesting is this: “One thing I believe with absolute certainty: Dan Patrick as lieutenant governor will hasten the day Texas turns purple. His personal history is one of recklessness and carelessness. There are going to be train wrecks along the way. I have serious doubts about whether the tea party can govern or whether Patrick can get along with his peers without having a meltdown along the way.”

Meltdown? I keep thinking of the release late in the campaign of Patrick’s medical records, which included some time with a shrink who counseled him about his depression. It was a low blow at the end of a tough campaign to bring that stuff up … but is this part of Burka’s calculation about how the Texas Senate might be run under the leadership of a Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick?

Tea party candidates have bitten the dust all over the country. Not in Texas, though. They’re riding high.

One bit of cheer is worth passing on: At least Republicans had the good sense to toss aside Steve Stockman’s challenge to John Cornyn in the U.S. Senate primary.

Dewhurst taken down

They’re still counting votes in 254 Texas counties as I write this post, but Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has been declared a lame duck.

He’s been defeated in the bitterly fought Texas Republican runoff by state Sen. Dan Patrick, a tea party favorite, hardline conservative, former sportscaster and all-around tough cookie.


Bring on Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who knows Patrick well and is figured by many observers to be the Democrats’ best chance this year to crack the GOP’s vise-grip on every statewide elected office.

As I noted in an earlier blog post, I am curiously sorry to see Dewhurst’s political career end like this. I am pretty sure he won’t run again. He’s in his mid-60s and figured to be sitting in the U.S. Senate next to John Cornyn — until he got beat in 2012 by another tea party golden boy, Ted Cruz.

Dewhurst’s defeat suggests the tea party wing of the Texas Republican Party is a lot healthier than it appears to be in many other states. Then again, the tea partiers have pulled mainstream Republicans — such as Dewhurst — so far to the right that there appears to be little difference between the two branches of the once-Grand Old Party.

Van de Putte won’t roll over in the upcoming fall campaign. She’s tough, smart and is no one’s fool. Patrick is all of those things, too. This could be on fiery campaign.

I hope it brings as much light onto the issues as it’s sure to bring heat on the two candidates.