I promise you that this is very significant. State Senator Bob Deuell (R-Hunt County), a long time stalwart of the upper chamber hailing from the east, has endorsed Dan Patrick in the Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor. Patrick (R-Harris County), yet another member of the State Senator, did not always appear to have the most amiable of relationships with Deuell. Not so much for any centrism, but his bipartisanship and general decency around Democrats did him in with the Tea Party. Accordingly, he drew a Tea Party backed, far-right challenger in Bob Hall this primary cycle. Deuell and Hall will face off against one another next month in a runoff election, though polls generally put Deuell at an advantage.
Deuell supporting Patrick in a desperate attempt to improve his conservative credentials should not be seen as surprising in the least, but it is extremely important because of what it means for the future of the Texas Senate. Simply put, Deuell was an invaluable part of coalition I conjured up to combat the reign of terror from Dan Patrick, who –barring an incredibly strange turn of events– will be the next Lieutenant Governor of Texas. The point I made last month was that, assuming Wendy Davis’ Senate seat falls into Republican hands (Dems were too lazy to find a candidate worth their weight in paper), 5 Republicans would have to defect and join with the Democrats to strip Lt Gov Patrick of all his power at the start of the 84th Legislative session in January 2015. As I explained previously, the broad powers that the Lieutenant Governor has as the President of the Senate is by tradition not constitutional mandate. A majority of the Senate could easily strip the Lt Gov of her or his powers.
The other names I floated about back then Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock County), Kevin Eltife (R-Smith County), Robert Nichols (R-Cherokee County) and Kel Seliger (R-Potter County). Alas, I received more bad news today when I heard that Robert Duncan, the fiercely reasonable State Senator from Lubbock, was rumored to be a shoe-in for the Chancellorship of Texas Tech. Accordingly, he would not be around to fight the good fight come next year.
With the loss of John Carona (R-Dallas County) in a Republican primary to the irreconcilable Don Huffines and the abrupt resignation of Patrick-foe Tommy Williams (R-Montgomery County), the options are getting awfully limited to cobble together five votes from the other side of the aisle. Simply put, too many in the Republican caucus are either new or corrupted by the Tea Party to stand up for what is right.
I don’t have a good idea to put forth at this time. I’ve said a long time that it will get significantly worse before it gets any better. Make no mistake, this is it getting worse. With Patrick on the dais, unrestrained in his power, and without voices of reason in his caucus such as Carona and Duncan (and possibly, Deuell), the 84th Legislative session will be a very, very scary place indeed. Brace yourself.