No Special Session

The Texas Tribune reports that a joint agreement between Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus has been reached to immediately augment funding for the Department of Public Safety in order to beef border patrols. Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for Governor, also backed this plan.

As the sagacious will surely recall, there have been thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the Texas-Mexico border in recent weeks, reportedly migrating –at least in part– in response to the US’s lenient policy toward undocumented minors. Obviously, the key folly with this line of reasoning is that everyone –minor or not– apprehended at the border is slated for deportation immediately. Anyways, as a direct result of this recent flareup, some prominent Republicans have begun clamoring for a special session of the Texas Legislature to address the issue. Most notably, State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County), the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor, pushed his nativist rhetoric hard, even giving a hat-tip to previous controversial statements made about immigrants and “third world diseases.” I pushed hard a couple of days ago about just how bad of an idea that it would be to accept such a proposition, as an innocuous border protection session could very easily morph into a right-wing think tank producing Arizona-style immigration policies.

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It’s a trap!

The Texas Tribune reports that a gaggle of Republican politicians, lead by State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County), the GOP nominee for Lieutenant Governor, have began pushing for Governor Rick Perry to call a fourth special session of the Texas Legislature to deal with border security.

The Washington Post provides the needed background on this issue. There have been tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the border, with some evidence that they are coming here because of deferred action programs delaying the deportation of minor undocumented immigrants. Anyways, the powers-to-be have quickly realized that something needs to be done. Breitbart notes that Perry has said that, given current budget constraints, he can do little over the issue.

Accordingly, enter State Reps. Jonathan Strickland (R-Tarrant County) and Steve Toth (R-Montgomery County). The two pushed for the Governor to call a fourth special session specifically devoted to border security. By the end of the day, Patrick had publicly signed onto the matter. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, now a lame duck but still President of the Senate for the time being, also supported the measure via his Facebook page.

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In re Dan Patrick

Last night, I attended the “victory party” for the David Dewhurst campaign. As one may have expect, the affair for the Lieutenant Governor was rather somber as a result of his crushing defeat at the hands of State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County), who usurped the nomination away from the three-term incumbent. In other news from around the State, State Senator Ken Paxton (R-Collin County) defeated State Representative Dan Branch (R-Dallas County) to win the GOP nomination for Attorney General and former State Representative Sid Miller (R-Erath County) defeated former State Representative Tommy Merritt (R-Gregg County) to win the GOP nomination for Agriculture Commissioner. Ryan Sitton also won the Republican primary runoff for the Railroad Commission, besting former State Representative Wayne Christian (R-Shelby County). All in all, it was a fantastic night for the Tea Party in an election cycle where they are losing all over the rest of the country.

Whenever I go to an election watch party, I invariably attempt to befriend the younger faces, out of familiarity I suppose. As a fun aside, this was the first election where some of those “younger faces” were actually younger than me, but that is neither here nor there. What stuck out to me was the degree of hatred pointed toward Patrick that many held. Most everyone I talked to pledged to not vote for Dan Patrick in the fall, with many of them willing to thrust eager support behind State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-Bexar County), the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor.

“It doesn’t matter anyways, Texas will be a blue state in 10 years,” one of them even said. I was shocked at how many of his compatriots appeared to tacitly agree with such a viewpoint, long the immaculate bread and butter of Democratic politics. You know my opinion on this subject, however. It is going to get worse before it is going to get better, and last night was yet another huge step backwards.

Click here to see my obligatory charts!

Texpatriate endorses in Lieutenant Governor runoff

The Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor perplexes us in a way most other races do not. Simply put, we find both candidates to be extraordinarily hypocritical. A demagogue and a grandstander, the options for voters are not especially good this cycle. However, at the end of the day, we find that Dewhurst’s sane record of accomplished public service, no matter how much he may eschew it now, is superior to Patrick’s always unpredictable and often untested history.

A non-ideological technocrat and policy wonk at heart, Dewhurst has an impressive track record of competently leading the State in part. As many may recall, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas has often been called the State’s most powerful officer because it commands unencumbered powers over the State Senate. The Lieutenant Governor names committee chairs, and then decides which bills go to which committee. In summation, he chooses whether a bill lives or dies. Of course, this relationship with the Senate is a symbiotic one, which can largely be taken away by an unhappy Senate. Accordingly, a strong but respectful Lieutenant Governor is needed to maintain the integrity of that body.

We simply do not think Patrick fulfills that requirement, particularly the “respectful” part. He has made no shortage of enemies (mostly within his own party) following his brief sojourn in the chamber, fellow Senators who will be invaluable for a smooth stewardship of the Senate.

Click here to read our full endorsement!

Reality Check, Part III

Public Policy Poling has another poll out today that examines the horse-race in the Statewide elections, the first of its kind from PPP following last month’s primary. In short, the Democrats have a lot of work to do, with huge deficits for Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte, David Alameel and John Cook, among others. Just from a cursory review of the recent pollsters and evaluations, I am prepared to say that, in some ways, 2014 will be a worse year for Texas Democrats than 2010 was, ceteris paribus.

The last time PPP created one of those polls, it put State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Tarrant County), the Democratic nominee for Governor, 15 points down against Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate (ABBOTT 51, DAVIS 37). In the five months since, a whole lot has happened of consequence. First, there was the whole “Trailergate” thing, then deeper questions about the competence of Davis’ campaign. However, starting about six weeks ago, a funny thing happened. Abbott began stumbling unprovoked, first with the Ted Nugent scandal then with a flareup over Equal Pay. In recent days, the controversy has centered on the fact that Abbott’s education plan not only aims to extend standardized testing to four-year olds, but also relied upon the commentary of a Charles Murray, once cited as a white supremacist by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Seriously.

Click here to read more poll results (spoiler: they’re all bad)!

Eltife defends Two-thirds rule

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.

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Lieutenant Governor Patrick?

Let us assume that Dan Patrick wins the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor. Further, let us assume that –no matter what the Washington Post may say–  Patrick wins the general election. What, then, will become of our Texas? Liberals are preaching about a tentative apocalypse that may occur if Patrick takes the dais at the Senate. Tea Partiers are giddy at the prospect of having one of their own in office.

This leads us to examine just what would, in fact, happen if (when) Patrick is inaugurated into office at the commencement of the 84th Legislature in January 2015. An article in the San Antonio Express-News begins to answer that question, but stops shy of the pronouncement I will go on to say. Simply put, the article notes the continuing hostility between Patrick and many of the Republican members of the State Senate. In my opinion, the article focuses too much on the prospect of what the Senate majority would do if State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), the Democratic nominee, is elected, given how quixotic that proposition could be. Instead, I would like to focus on how the Senate majority may react to the –far more likely– result of Dan Patrick being elected Lieutenant Governor.

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