Patricia Kilday Hart at the Houston Chronicle expands upon an issue I lightly touched upon last week: if and how Dan Patrick and recent primaries might move the general temperament of the upper chamber significantly to the right. Specifically, she noted at least three examples of those Republicans most amenable to maintaining the current balance of order in the chamber.
As I have expanded upon in the aforementioned previous post, the venerable 2/3rds rule in the Senate has been incessantly under attack by both State Senator Dan Patrick or Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. I wrote about this issue at length in The Daily Texan, but the gist of the matter is that some of the Republican top brass want to make the Democratic minority powerless to stop the proposals of the Republican majority. This would run hand-in-hand with the oft-controversial Patrick taking the helm of power as Lieutenant Governor, which also serves as President of the Senate. However, as I mentioned in my other article (which, I insist, you should really read), a majority of the Senate may strip the Lieutenant Governor of his power. This majority (16 Senators) would require 5 Republicans join with the Democrat caucus, assuming Wendy Davis’ seat falls into Republican hands.
This is where Hart’s reporting vis-a-vis State Senator Kevin Eltife (R-Smith County) comes into play. Eltife also took the opportunity in ink to take swipes at the more conservative elements in his party, such as those who still say we need to further reduce spending. “I’ll argue till hell freezes over that it would have been more conservative to raise the gas tax and index it to inflation instead of borrowing,” Eltife said.
Hart also mentioned two other Senators with a moderate streak, Senators who coincidentally have no surplus of love with Patrick. State Senators Bob Deuell (R-Hunt County) and Kel Seliger (R-Potter County) are those mentioned. Both faced “more conservative” primary challengers, and Deuell actually still faces a runoff. Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock County), who has a history of blasting the irreconcilables, would be an ideal fourth choice in this rag-tag group of pragmatic Republicans dedicated to maintaining sanity.
Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) would have been an ideal fifth choice for the coalition, but he was recently defeated for renomination by Don Huffines, who just recently threw his full support behind Patrick. My suggestion is Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Cherokee County), not necessarily because he is on the more moderate side, but because he is a high-profile rural legislator who largely preceded the Tea Party. Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Galveston County) is yet another option, specifically after he had a rather high-profile tiff with Governor Perry.