Tag Archives: Texas lieutenant governor

A higher-office campaign in the making?

The Texas Bathroom Bill is going to be on the agenda for the upcoming special session of the Texas Legislature.

Given that I no longer predict things political, I won’t say this is going to happen. Instead, I’ll just offer my lack of surprise if it does … which is whether Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is angling for a potential run for higher office in 2018.

Straus hates Senate Bill 6, which is the Bathroom Bill that got torpedoed in the regular legislative session. Who loves the bill? That would be Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who runs the Texas Senate.

Apparently, Gov. Greg Abbott favors the bill sufficiently to put it on the Legislature’s lengthy list of issues to consider for its special session.

According to the Texas Tribune: “I’m not a lawyer, but I am a Texan,” Straus said. “I’m disgusted by all this. Tell the lieutenant governor I don’t want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands.”

Straus said he is concerned about a potential spike in suicide among transgender Texans. The bill under consideration would require individuals to use public restrooms that align with the gender noted on their birth certificate. Is it discriminatory against transgender people? Straus thinks so, as do I.

Check out the Tribune story.

Straus will be up for re-election next year as well in his San Antonio House district. Were he to run for, say, lieutenant governor or governor in the Republican primary, he would be unable to seek GOP nomination for his House seat at the same time.

However, Straus is sounding quite like a champion for those who oppose the Bathroom Bill and his “disgust” over the legislation might spur him to seek higher office.

I believe I will plan to keep my eyes and ears open to this fellow’s immediate future.

Lt. Gov. Patrick: Keep troops on the border

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants to keep state National Guard troops on the state’s southern border.

Here’s the question: Is the state’s No. 2 elected official getting ahead of its No. 1 official, the governor, who’s actually in command of the Texas National Guard?


Former Gov. Rick Perry dispatched the National Guard to the border a year ago in a move seen by many as little more than a grandstanding act designed to make himself look tough in the face of that mass migration of children into Texas, who were fleeing political and economic repression in Central America.

You’ll recall, perhaps, that Gov. Perry sent the troops there with no clear mission — or even any authority — to make arrests.


There’s a new regime at the top in Austin, with Perry now out office and Abbott occupying the governor’s seat, and with Patrick having defeated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP primary this past spring.

It’s interesting to me that, according to the Dallas Morning News, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, has taken a cautious approach to Patrick’s call for keeping the troops on patrol along the border. “I appreciate Gov. Patrick’s remarks,” Straus said. “But Gov. Abbott is the commander in chief and he will decide whether to extend the National Guard’s deployment.” The Morning News reports that Abbott had no comment on Patrick’s statements.

All of this has me curious as well. Is the lieutenant governor’s stay-tough approach to border enforcement a symbolic shot across Abbott’s bow to ensure that the Big Man — Abbott — is equally stern in his approach to border enforcement?

Some folks seem to believe Patrick has his eyes set on another political prize in 2018, the one currently possessed by Greg Abbott.

I’m just wondering.


'Open-carry' votes missing in state Senate

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is showing some early signs of realism.

He said the Texas Senate might be unable to approve a bill allowing Texans to carry firearms in the open.

I hope his skepticism hold up.


Patrick told the Texas Tribune that while he embraces the Second Amendment, open-carry legislation isn’t a top priority among state senators. “Second Amendment rights are very important, but open carry does not reach to the level of prioritizing at this point,” he said. “I don’t think the votes are there.”

I’ve waltzed all over the pea patch on this one. I used to oppose concealed-carry legislation, fearing the worst. The worst hasn’t happened and it doesn’t appear that it will, so I’ve acknowledged by mistaken fear of concealed-firearm carry legislation.

This open-carry business, though, still gives me the nervous jerks.

I keep asking myself: Back in the days of the Old West, was this a safer place with good guys packing heat right along with bad guys?

Yes, this no longer is the Wild West and we’re supposed to be more, um, civilized now than they were back in those days.

It’s just the idea of seeing folks with guns on their hips …

Patrick might be able to count votes among the 31 senators, but he’s got a wild bunch across the way in the House of Representatives who are going to put the pressure on enact this legislation.

Be strong, senators.


Dan Patrick to take office flush with campaign cash

Dan Patrick is a cash-raising machine.

The new Texas lieutenant governor is going to take office next week with about $4 million in leftover campaign money. He’ll put it away, sit on it for, oh, the next three years or so.

Then he’ll get to decide whether he (a) wants to seek re-election or (b) go for the next highest office in the state, governor, the one that will be occupied by his fellow Republican Greg Abbott.


As the Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka has noted, there can be no other reason than a possible governor’s race in 2018 to explain why Patrick raised so much money to become the state’s lieutenant governor.

Gov. Abbott had better watch his back.

Patrick’s presence as presiding officer of the Texas Senate is going to put a lot of pressure on Abbott to ensure that he remains faithful to the TEA party principles on which he ran in 2014. He’ll have to persist in suing President Obama every chance he gets at least until Obama leaves office in January 2017. He’ll have to keep the lid on Medicaid expansion. He’ll have to promote tax cuts — even if they damage the state’s ability to provide essential government services.

All this is essential to the TEA party wing’s platform. Lt. Gov. Patrick is the TEA partyer in chief, so he’ll be watching with a keen eye to ensure that the governor toes the line.

As the saying goes, money does talk.


Farewell, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst

David Dewhurst has bid the Texas Senate farewell after serving 12 years as lieutenant governor and presiding officer of the 31-member legislative chamber.

It was an emotional good bye.

I’m glad the Senate approved the resolution honoring him for his service. Dewhurst did serve the state well.

That is until he got outflanked on his right by Ted Cruz in their campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2012. Then the lieutenant governor became someone that many of us no longer recognized. He got outflanked once more this past year as he lost the Republican primary to Dan Patrick.

The cause of good government has lost a one-time champion.


I recall when Dewhurst splashed onto the state political scene in 1998 when he ran for land commissioner. I’d never heard of this wealthy guy from Houston. He’d been a political insider downstate and was well-connected.

But he became land commissioner and did a great job expanding veterans home loan benefits, which is one of the office’s key duties.

Dewhurst was an occasional visitor to the Panhandle while serving in that office and later as lieutenant governor. He always seemed quite appreciative of the time we spent visiting about the issues of the day. And I think we forged a nice professional relationship over the years.

Dewhurst could talk forever about the tiniest details of legislation, which he did often either on the phone or in person. Indeed, I often heard from my sources in Austin that Dewhurst might have been the hardest-working state official in Texas.

He was elected lieutenant governor in 2002, succeeding Bill Ratliff who was appointed by the Senate to fill the term vacated when Rick Perry became governor — after George W. Bush was elected president.

Dewhurst ran the Senate the way most of his predecessors did, with a flair for bipartisan cooperation. He was unafraid to appoint Democratic senator as committee chairs, sharing the power with senators from the other party.

I always appreciated his adherence to Senate tradition.

Then came his failed bid to be elected to the U.S. Senate. Ted Cruz battered him for being too moderate. Dewhurst fought back — uncomfortably, it appeared to me — by saying in effect, “I’m no moderate. I’m as conservative as you are, Mr. Cruz.”

He didn’t wear the TEA party label well. Cruz beat him in the 2012 GOP primary.

Then came Patrick in 2014 to do the same thing to Dewhurst: painting him as some sort of squishy moderate Republican In Name Only. There’s nothing worse in the Texas GOP than to be called a RINO.

They fought through the primary. Patrick defeated Dewhurst in the runoff.

Now the new guy is set to take over. The Senate won’t be the same. Dewhurst has said farewell.

I am glad to have gotten to know Lt. Gov. Dewhurst. I wish him well in whatever future awaits him.


From 'Worst' to the top of the ladder?

Dan Patrick might be poised to become Texas’s next lieutenant governor.

If that’s the case — and the betting is that he will — then the Texas Senate, where this guy now serves, is going to become a certifiable loony bin.

Texas Monthly, which takes pride in a reasonable, studious and careful analysis of legislators’ performance, rated him among the worst of the 31 men and women who serve in the state Senate. To think, then, that Patrick now aspires to be the man running the state’s upper legislative chamber, which is what the lieutenant governor does.


I know what you might be thinking: Oh, yeah. Texas Monthly’s nothing more than a pandering mouthpiece for them nutty liberal Democrats.

The magazine, though, has routinely heaped plenty of praise on Republican lawmakers over the years. Former Sen. Bob Duncan of Lubbock? One of the magazine’s favorites. Former Sen. Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant? He, too, has received plenty of praise. Why I that? Because these are reasonable men who knew how to legislate, how to work with Democrats, who worked and studied hard on key issues of the day.

Patrick isn’t cut from that cloth, according to Texas Monthly, which wrote this about Patrick’s service in the 2013 Legislature: “There are few types of lawmakers less helpful to the legislative process than bullies and ideologues. Unfortunately, Dan Patrick too often seemed to be both in his first session as the chair of the Senate Education Committee. The Houston radio host fell into a habit of lecturing his fellow legislators, interrupting witnesses, and accusing those who disagreed with him of simply not understanding his bills. In short, he ran his committee like he runs his talk show, where the only opinion that really matters is his own..”

This is the guy who figures to ram his own ideas down the throats of the individuals who will serve in the Senate.

While chairing the Education Committee, he decided to badger Education Commissioner Michael Williams — himself no shrinking violet — about end-of-course exams that students need to take to graduate from high school. Williams sought to “respectfully disagree,” but before he could, Patrick cut him off and berated him.

It utterly amazes me (a) that this guy won the Republican Party nomination over a sitting lieutenant governor and (b) is favored to win the office over another state senator, Democrat Leticia Van de Putte, who happens, shall we say, to be more interested in legislating than showboating.

As the late lieutenant governor, Bob Bullock, might say if he were around today: God help Texas.



Patrick is sounding scary

I’ll say this up front: Texas voters very well might be on the verge of electing a seriously frightening politician as their next lieutenant governor.

His name is Dan Patrick, a Republican state senator from Houston.

He’s glib. He is articulate. He is quick on his feet. He’s also unapologetically ultra-conservative — in a scary sort of way.


One of my favorite pundits, Paul Burka, hit it squarely in a blog post for Texas Monthly. Commenting on his debate with Democratic opponent state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, Burka writes: “The most interesting thing about the debate was Patrick’s persona. He felt no need to soften his message or appeal to more mainstream voters. This is exactly who he is, and who he wants to be: a true conservative radical.”

Those of us who’ve watched Texas politics transition from a conservative Democratic state to an ultra-conservative Republican one are well aware of the strength of what passes today for the Republican Party. Patrick fits that profile to the letter.

It’s scary to think that Texans very well could elect someone who, as Burka notes, wants to boost the sales tax beyond all reason and who actually talked the other night in his debate with debate with Van de Putte about immigrants tracking unknown diseases into the state.

He makes no apologies for the massive budget cuts that have affected public education. He wants the Senate — which the lieutenant governor runs as its presiding officer — to become more partisan, not less.

Patrick sounds like someone who believes that all Texans believe as he does and that he intends to run the Legislature’s upper chamber in such a manner.

Such arrogance, of course, is utter nonsense. That won’t stop millions of Texans on Nov. 4 from voting for this guy.

He’s favored to win the lieutenant governorship. It makes me sad that Texas is going to demonstrate to the rest of the country just how wacky we’ve become.

I will predict right here and now that a Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is going to drive the few reasonable and moderate Republicans left in the Senate out of office.

Abbott looking past this year's contest

Paul Burka has put forth an interesting theory on why Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott keeps raising money even though he appears to have the race for governor all but sewn up.


He’s looking past Democratic challenger Wendy Davis and looking ahead to what might be a formidable challenge from within his own Republican Party.

Dan Patrick — who, in my view at least, is less of a cinch to win the lieutenant governor’s race in November — likely is going to run for governor in 2018, Burka believes.

Don’t misunderstand: When I say “less of a cinch,” I don’t mean to suggest that Democrat Leticia Van de Putte is going to win the lieutenant governor’s race. It’s just that it’s going to be more competitive than the race for governor. Van de Putte even might scare Patrick just a bit.

Patrick has his eyes on some big prizes down the road. First, though, he’ll have to defeat Abbott in four years if that contest is in the cards.

I’m not sure before the current election cycle is over what precisely would drive Patrick to challenge Abbott. They’re both singing off the same tea party song sheet. They’re both tacking far, far to the right. They’re practically joined at the hip with regard to abortion, taxes, legislative protocol, education spending.

It might be that Patrick will conclude in, say, two years that Abbott isn’t crazy enough to suit his taste.

So, as Burka writes in his Texas Monthly blog, Patrick is setting the stage for what well could  become a GOP donnybrook … and Abbott is getting ready for him.

I can hardly wait.

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 …

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.