The San Antonio Express-News reports that some Democrats have begun openly vying for State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) to be the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor. Simply put, given that Patrick is the most conservative candidate in the primary, and has allegedly alienated many moderate and pragmatic voters with his fiery rhetoric. Patrick, for example, does not shield his untethered hostility towards immigrants, calling recent Latin American migration to this State an “invasion.” Additionally, he his unforgiving about his opposition to abortions in all circumstances as well as a belief that homosexuality is a disease and a lifestyle choice. Make no mistake, Patrick’s extremism is off-putting to millions of Texans.
However, for some reason, this has given Democrats the brash and naive idea that their candidate for Lieutenant Governor, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), will be more successful against Patrick. History has shown us time and time again that this a fallacious and invalid argument. Albeit, pleas to logic and reason are seldom effective against those blinded by ideology, from either side of the aisle. In short summation, no matter what the nameless “Democratic analysts and consultants” referenced by the Express-News article may say, the political views of a candidate in a downballot race just don’t matter…but more on that later.
Albert Einstein famously opined that insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. My father is more direct; he typically says “You can’t fix stupid.” Both are applicable here. This strategy of “hope the crazy one wins the primary” has previously occurred more times than I care to admit.
Let us look back at 2012 as our first example. That election was an overall friendly one to the Democrats. A democratic President was re-elected, and the party gained seats in both houses of Congress, as well as both houses of the Legislature. That year, a brutal primary for the Senate caused the Republicans to nominate the most right-wing candidate in recent memory, Ted Cruz. These same naive Democrats (is that redundant?) audaciously proclaimed this could be the year the Democrats win. In another race, controversial CCA Justice Sharon Keller faced the very valid criticism that she was complicit in an execution that occurred before the successful completion of due process. The Democrat in each of those respective races finished behind President Obama, by no means a popular figure in this State.
Admittedly, following a nasty Republican primary fight for Governor in 2010, the Democrat in that race finished ahead of all his fellow compatriots. However, this was still over 13 points below the needed plurality for victory.
Contrary to the beliefs of the Ivory Tower or the Austin bubble, most voters do not much so much of a super-informed decision in these downballot races. The Gubernatorial contest will likely define the narrative, with most voters just pulling the lever straight ticket the rest of the journey. The 2014 Lieutenant Gubernatorial election will be decided on what people think of Barack Obama, Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis, in that order. Dan Patrick will be an afterthought.
Indeed, history tells us that even Judas could beat Jesus if the ballot was listed as “Iscariot-R & Christ-D.” Texas Democrats should be very careful for what they wish for.