Lieutenant Governor debate

I watched the Lieutenant Governor’s debate, which was broadcast live on television, this evening and tried to live-tweet the whole debacle, but understandably so may have gotten a little biased or overly partisan throughout the ordeal. If you want a straightforward, non-partisan and otherwise just extraordinary source for these sorts of events, I thoroughly recommend following Scott Braddock. The debate featured all four Republican candidates for Lieutenant Governor, was hosted by KERA (Dallas’ NBC affiliate) and featured a panel of moderators from Univision, the Texas Tribune and the Houston Chronicle.

To start things out, the candidates were asked their opinion on a recent ruling by a Forth Worth Judge to force a brain dead woman be removed from ventilator, despite being over twenty weeks pregnant. Unsurprisingly, all four deeply disagreed with the ruling and appeared supportive of changes in the law that would put the alleged rights of the pre-born above even a legally dead mother. However, the topic soon shifted to abortion, where all four candidates made it clear that they opposed abortions even in cases of rape and incest.

Click here to read more!

Civil Affairs: Two/thirds rule

CIVIL AFFAIRS

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Via the Daily Texan:

There are four Republican candidates for lieutenant governor this year: incumbent David Dewhurst, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and state Sen. Dan Patrick. With all four vying to win the Republican primary — a contest determined by the just over 10 percent of voters, many of them passionate conservatives — the candidates have unsurprisingly been taking political positions further and further to the right.

Most of the lieutenant governor’s powers involve the position’s role as the president of the Texas Senate. The lieutenant governor presides over the chamber, names the chairmen of the ever-powerful committees and helps to craft the rules at the beginning of each session. Accordingly, many of the far-right ideas propagated by these candidates will involve changing the way the Senate works and runs. And in Texas, where the state Senate features a Democratic Party that is in the minority and desperate to use every dilatory maneuver at its disposal, this could mean big changes to the rules in the legislative process that currently benefit the minority.

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Patterson the Pragmatist

Common knowledge would have you believe that all four Republican candidates for Lieutenant Governor are equally conservative, with each and every one occupying a political position just right of Attila the Hun. Accordingly, the prevailing wisdom has held that for liberals or centrists considering casting ballots in the GOP primary, there are no good options. After a few bouts of news in the last few days, I now must strongly disagree with such an overly simplified assessment.

First, The Dallas Morning News reports that Jerry Patterson, the State’s Land Commissioner and a Lieutenant Governor hopeful, has begun calling out his opponents for too extreme of conservatism over the theoretical repeal of the 17th amendment. The over 100 year old statute provides for the direct election of the US Senate, taking that power out of the hands of the State Legislatures. For what it is worth, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples –another hopeful– blasted the idea, albeit on less pragmatic grounds (he noted that direct election led to the reign of Ted Cruz).

As the Burnt Orange Report noted back in October, this fodder penetrated into the mainstream following a primary forum in October. At that point, incumbent David Dewhurst and State Senator Dan Patrick unequivocally noted, on the record, that they wished to repeal the amendment. However, in addition to these statements, Bob Price tweeted that he privately confirmed the remaining candidates were also in favor of repeal. Price is a well-respected journalist for Texas GOP vote, a conservative newsource that is actually pretty straightforward. I’ve placed calls to Patterson’s campaign and received no comment by press time on this alleged discrepancy.

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Van de Putte makes it official

The Texas Tribune reports that State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-Bexar County), a long serving rank-and-file legislator, will join the Lieutenant Governor’s race. Van de Putte, who stepped into the national spotlight during the Wendy Davis filibuster, has since become a nationwide hero of liberals for her impassioned defense of abortion rights.

Van de Putte will face Maria Alvarado, a political nobody and the 2006 nominee for Lieutenant Governor, in the Democratic primary. However, at press time, Alvarado has not yet filed for office and may not even end up running. Either way, Van de Putte is heavily favored to prevail by a large margin, given both her high name recognition and well-financed campaign.

The incumbent Lieutenant Governor, David Dewhurst, of course will face a crowded Republican primary just to get another chance at keeping his job. Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and State Senator Dan Patrick are all vying to knock off Dewhurst and win the nomination for themselves. Because of this, the four candidates have often tried to one-up each other, tacking to the right on more and more issues. Recently, in fact, the candidates flirted with the idea of repealing the 17th amendment (direct election of US Senators) and impeaching President Obama. It is unclear how much this will help Van de Putte.

Click here to read more!

Another 2014 Tribune poll

The Texas Tribune, in cooperation with the University of Texas, has released a new 2014 General election poll. As far as I could figure, this is the first poll the institutions have released for the 2014 campaign. The results paint an interesting picture of the political landscape that could foster competitive elections for the first time in nearly 20 years.

First and foremost, let us look at the results:

Click here to view results and analysis!

Lieutenant Governor debate

Patti Hart at the Houston Chronicle reports on the first official debate in the Lieutenant Governor campaign. The debate, held at the Houston Doubletree Hotel, featured all four candidates: incumbent David Dewhurst, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and, last but not least, State Senator Dan Patrick.

Many of the questions hinged on Dewhurst’s handling of the Wendy Davis filibuster, which Patrick was especially critical thereof. Dewhurst touted his conservative credentials when responding to these sorts of questions, including the fact that he passed the unfortunate bill eventually and that the pro-life anti-choice groups endorsed his actions.

However, the much more entertaining portion of the debate hinged upon two ideas brought up by two different challengers, alleging that the Lieutenant Governor is not conservative enough. First, Patterson uttered that laws protecting endangered animals are unwise, pontificating that the “critters ought to die anyways.” He then doubled down on the statement, as the Chronicle, reprinting his quote, noted: “I mean – the blind salamander? How long are we gonna let that little bugger last?”

Patterson’s comments, though, while asinine, were insignificant compared to Dewhurst’s response to one of Patrick’s inquiries (yes, I know, all the names are getting confusing). Patrick defiantly castigated Dewhurst’s record of bipartisanship and cooperation with Democrats, stating that he would reward partisan affiliation much more than seniority in appointing committee heads. His full quote that the Chronicle printed was: “I will not appoint half of the Democrats as chairman of committees.”

Dewhurst responded to the comments, at first, with arithmetic. Democrats control 7 of the 17 committees, or roughly 29% of them. However, Patrick’s comments involved an allegation about “half of the Democrats,” not half of the Committees. There are only 12 Democrats in the Senate, while mean 42% of the caucus is a Committee chair, and if one more was added to the mix it would be exactly 50%. Dewhurst’s response to this was that the committees controlled by Democrats were not important.

The five committees chaired by Democrats are Criminal Justice (Whitmire), Government Organization (Zaffrini), Intergovernmental Relations (Hinojosa), Jurisprudence (West), Open Government (Ellis) & Veterans Affairs (Van de Putte). I will concede that Government Organization & Interovernmental Relaitons are not the most glamorous (or important) subjects, but the other three most definitely are.

The integrity of Criminal Justice, Open Government & Veterans’ Affairs are absolutely among the most important functions of the State. I find it somewhat fitting, therefore, that they are also some of the most neglected by the right wing. Even at the local level, Republicans hate these things.

Hart resurrected the story again today, where she wrote in the Houston Chronicle about the backlash Dewhurst has received, specifically from Leticia Van de Putte of the Veterans’ committee. Van de Putte published an extended open letter critiquing Dewhurst’s insult of her committee:

“You can imagine my great shock when I read the newspaper this morning and learned that you dismissed the work of the VAMI committee…I can only hope that your comments were taken out of context because, Governor Dewhurst, I can assure you that the work of the VAMI committee is important– as a veteran, you should know this. The VAMI committee serves over 1.7 million veterans living in our state and more than 131,000 active-duty military service members. The committee I chair has worked hard to make Texas the number one state for military service members, veterans and their families by passing legislation that eases the transition of service members and their families to civilian life; strengthens Hazelwood higher education benefits for veterans and their families; and addresses the high number of suicides by veterans and serve members.”

As a Democrat in the state of Texas, I would understand if you attacked me personally at a Republican political debate. However, I take great exception with dismissing the work of the committee which I chair, particularly because the VAMI committee works hard to protect the men and women that defend your right to freely debate.”

Van de Putte, for her part, is seen as a possible candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Accordingly, such harshly worded comments give me a slight inkling that she is fanning the fire for a Statewide run.

Texas Leftist & Burnt Orange Report have more.

The State of Statewide Elections

We have had quite a lot of action recently with our Statewide elections, and I’m talking about the Republican primaries to be clear. If anyone really wanted me to enumerate every single Democratic candidate, it would just be an empty chart. So, without further ado, the State of the Statewides, on this final day of June, 2013. We will be getting the campaign finance reports soon, so there will be even more to talk about.

GOVERNOR
*Rick Perry-Despite recently pledging to make a campaign decision by July 1st, the Governor recently reneged on that promise. The new time frame appears to be that Perry will make his big decision by the end of the Second Special Session, so by the end of July. Reading the tea leaves for Perry’s future is difficult, however. On one hand, the Texas Tribune recently reported that a Perry campaign veteran, Mark Miner, is rejoining his team. On the other, more and more candidates have started lining up for the Attorney General’s office, with the assumption that Greg Abbott is running for Governor. Only the incumbent Governor knows for sure.

*Greg Abbott-The incumbent Attorney General is, second to only Perry, the most watched figure in Texas politics. Perry has previous made the announcement that the duo would not run against each other. Further, there have been quite a few candidates who have declared for Abbott’s current job, with the understanding that Abbott will not run again for Attorney General.

*Tom Pauken-The former Chairman of the Texas Republican Party and Texas Workforce Commission is, right now, the only serious candidate running for the Governor’s office. He in unapologetic about opposing the incumbent, but I do not know how the campaign would actually go if it were Abbott, and not Perry, who was his principle opponent.

*Larry SECEDE Kilgore-As I have mentioned before, there is also a Texas secessionist who wants to turn to the new sovereignty into a theocracy. His campaign will be entertaining to watch, to say the least.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
*David Dewhurst-The incumbent Lieutenant Governor, despite his recent bad press, is still working hard to keep his job. After his loss to Cruz in last year’s Senate primary, Dewhurst has attempted to move as far to the right as humanly possible. A recent poll showed he had a plurality lead in a possible Republican primary, though most involved were still undecided.

*Jerry Patterson-The incumbent Land Commissioner has been openly running for Lite Gov since 2011, back when it appeared Dewhurst would be a shoe-in for the Senate. Since Dewhurst’s defeat, Patterson has simply doubled down on his own campaign.

*Todd Staples-The incumbent Agriculture Commissioner is pretty much in the same boat as Patterson. The commissioner has recently released a new internet video (not quite a commercial), that introduces him and his conservative credentials. It is chock full of hypocrisy, so I am sure he is going for major Tea Party support. For example, Staples calls himself a “defender of individual rights,” then brags about authoring the Defense of Marriage Act. Yuck.

*Dan Patrick-The new contender, State Senator Dan Patrick recently announced via YouTube video that he would be challenging Dewhurst, and, by extension, Patterson and Staples. Patrick attempted to brand himself as an “authentic Conservative.”

ATTORNEY GENERAL
*Greg Abbott-The incumbent Attorney General is, second to only Perry, the most watched figure in Texas politics. Perry has previous made the announcement that the duo would not run against each other. Further, there have been quite a few candidates who have declared for Abbott’s current job, with the understanding that Abbott will not run again for Attorney General.

*Dan Branch-The Chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, a State Representative for six terms now, has officially announced his intentions for Attorney General assuming Abbott departs. He is a little “twitter-happy” (that’s an understatement), making a tweet every few minutes that ends with the hashtag “DanBranch2014.” 

*Barry Smitherman-The incumbent Railroad Commissioner, who was just re-elected without opponent last year, has also announced his intentions to run for Attorney General in the event of Abbott’s departure. 

*Ken Paxton-The one-term Senator and previous Representative has long been mentioned as a possible candidate for Attorney General, though he hasn’t officially announced anything. 

*Susan Reed-I am going to keep mentioning this until she definitively rules herself out. Susan Reed, the Bexar County DA, was mentioned by the SA Express-News about being interested in running for the seat. She has not officially announced anything herself.

LAND COMMISSIONER
*George P. Bush-The next generation of Bush has been openly running for this seat for a few months now. He is getting national recognition because his dad was the Governor of Florida, his uncle was the President (and Governor of Texas) and his grandfather was also the President. 

*David Watts-Watts, who has to my knowledge never held public office, is running against Bush for Land Commissioner. A self proclaimed “Conservative Republican,” his announcement flew completely under the radar.

AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER
*Brandon Creighton-The conservative, Tea Party State Representative from Conroe, has been mentioned by quite a few sources, including The New York Times, as a possible candidate for Agriculture Commissioner. Creighton has not confirmed his candidacy.

*Tommy Merritt-The eastern Texas State Representative was famously defeated in the 2010 Republican Primary by then-unknown Tea Party favorite David Simpson, who has since become a big opponent of Speaker Straus. Merritt is now mentioned as an Agriculture Commissioner candidate, though he has not confirmed this.

*Eric Opiela-The only open candidate at this time. He served as the Executive Director of the Texas Republican Party from 2008-2009 and bears a special hatred in his heart for the EPA.

COMPTROLLER
*Glenn Hegar-The Senator who just concluded his fourth session is already an open candidate for the Comptrollers’ office, now that incumbent Susan Combs will be retiring. 

*Debra Medina-The former gubernatorial candidate and Wharton County Republican Party chair will be running for the office as well. If her 2010 campaign was any indicator, this will be a fun campaign.

*Harvey Hilderbran-The longtime State Representative will be running for the Comptrollers’ office, after 24 years in the lower house. Hilderbrn, a Tea Party favorite, was recently listed on Texas Monthly’s list of worst legislators.

*Raul Torres-The former one-term Republican State Rep from the Valley will be running for the office as well. I am curious to know how he will be setting himself apart from the rest.

*Tommy Williams-The Woodlands’ Senator, who recently had a high profile spat with Dan Patrick, has long been rumored as a Comptroller candidate. Williams, for his part, will be making his decision soon. Like Perry, he originally was going to make a comment at the conclusion of the special session, but the second session has started to muck these things up. Expect an announcement from Williams around the end of July.

RAILROAD COMMISSION
*Malachi Boyuls-A good friend of George P’s, Boyuls was recently highlighted as a candidate for the Railroad Commission. Interestingly, there will actually be two open Railroad Commission spots. First, Christi Craddick’s spot will be up for a full six-year term, while the final four years of Smitherman’s term will be filled in the event that he resigns his seat on the RRC.

*Stefani Carter-The Dallas area State Representative has long been open about her desires for Statewide office. If elected, she would bring some much needed diversity at the top –she is both female and African-American– which is now dominated by old, White men. For her part, she has not announced one way or another. She has even been mentioned as a possible Attorney General candidate.

Special thanks to Off the Kuff for assistance in compiling this list!

New Candidates

The Texas Tribune reports that Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County), the controversial Senate Education Committee chairman and recent opponent of the mainstream Texas GOP, has officially thrown his hat into the Lieutenant Governor’s race.

As Off the Kuff reviewed in somewhat detailed fashion this morning, Sen. Patrick has long been a bit of a lone wolf, straining relationships with not only the Lieutenant Governor, but also with Sen. Tommy Williams (R-Montgomery County), the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and key author of the budget. However, Patrick is interesting not just because of the seemingly far-right Tea Party streak in him but by what makes him anathema to many in the Tea Party: his ability to work together.

As this blog’s Editorial Board noted when we crowned him one of our Top 3 Senators, Patrick was spectacular at working with both Republicans and Democrats in formulating comprehensive solutions to issues facing his committee, education. On charter schools, graduation requirements and standardized testing reforms, Patrick worked with the left and right, business and labor, to pass common sense solutions.

All that being said, Patrick is not an infallible politician, or even bearable when you consider many of his political views. He was leading the charge to railroad all the rules and holy traditions in the Senate on Tuesday night in an attempt to pass SB5. He voted against Equal Pay for Women. These are the positions of 20th 19th Century politicians, not a modern leader for this State.

Anyways, the Senator announced his candidacy today as an “authentic conservative.” He will join the incumbent David Dewhurst, as well as Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. Four OLD, WHITE MEN. Lovely.

Smitherman
In other news, the Texas Tribune reports that Railroad Commission Barry Smitherman has officially thrown his hat into the Attorney General (in the more than likely event Greg Abbott runs for Governor). An individual named Malachi Boyuls has already filed to replace him on the Railroad Commission.

I also heard something about a candidate challenging George P. Bush in the primary for Land Commissioner, but for the life of me, cannot find any evidence of this online. Off the Kuff has more on Smitherman.

UPDATE: Also, Rick Perry has reneged on his “announce my intentions by July 1” promise in light of the new Special Session.

New candidates and new polls

It is a busy day for 2014 in the State. First up, The Texas Tribune reports on a poll just released that they commissioned along with the University of Texas. Let us dig in:

14. If Rick Perry were to run for governor again in 2014, would you vote for him, would you vote against him, or would you need to wait and see who is running against him?
VOTE FOR-25%
VOTE AGAINST-38%
WAIT-31%
DON’T KNOW-6%

16. 2014 Republican Primary for Lieutenant Governor
DAVID DEWHURST-19%
DAN PATRICK-10%
JERRY PATTERSON-6%
TODD STAPLES-5%
NO OPINION-61%

17. 2016 Republican Primary for President
TED CRUZ-25%
RAND PAUL-13%
MARCO RUBIO-11%
RICK PERRY-10%
CHRIS CHRISTIE-8%
PAUL RYAN-8%
BOBBY JINDAL-2%
RICK SANTORUM-2%
NO OPINION-21%

18. 2016 Democratic Primary for President
HILLARY CLINTON-66%
JOE BIDEN-11%
ANDREW CUOMO-1%
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND-1%
MARK WARNER-1%
NO OPINION-19%

19. 2014 Republican Primary for Governor
RICK PERRY-45%
GREG ABBOTT-19%
SOMEONE ELSE” (Tom Pauken)-11%
NO OPINION-25%

Pundits will attempt to justify the results of this poll as somehow revolutionary, but there are very few points worth actually discussing. Nobody should be surprised at the prospect of Hillary Clinton winning a primary poll. Further, no one should be surprised that favorite son Ted Cruz wins the GOP primary poll.  Rick Perry flew pretty high on these polls for the 2012 election. It should not be a surprise that States like their own, mainly because of the familiarity.

Further, the poll for Lieutenant Governor is worthless. Even the incumbent has zero name recognition, so it does not give us a good insight into who will win that election. The Gubernatorial poll, however, does have some merit. Rick Perry holds a decisive lead over Greg Abbott and Tom Pauken. I think there has been a pretty strong sentiment in this State that Rick Perry might not run for re-election because of fear he would lose. I think it is abundantly clear now, however, that he has nothing to worry about in that regard.

New Candidates
The Texas Tribune also has a nice little article about Barry Smitherman, the Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission. The Tribune highlights especially close on Smitherman’s possible aspirations to the Attorney General’s office, assuming Abbott runs for Governor. Also mentioned in the article are Senator Ken Paxton, former Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill and Representative Dan Branch, whose Twitter feed made the official announcement today.

2014 is really starting to heat up.

The state of the races

The Dallas Morning News reports that Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County) is still, in fact, pondering a run for Lieutenant Governor. The Morning News as well as the Tribune directly interview the Senator, and he is not shy about his ambition towards the state’s ostensibly second-highest office. Senator Patrick stated, ““That’s why I would run. It has nothing to do with David Dewhurst.” Even though the Morning News piece featured some hurtful comments referring to Houston as “choke city” (stupid [expletive deleted] Dallasites), it highlighted that Patrick will still be a factor in the race for Lieutenant Governor. It appears as though the floodgates have truly been opened by Combs’ announcement, as well. Accordingly, I would like to go over where each race stands as of now.

Governor
Perry, of course, is the main topic here. He would certainly be in a favorable position towards the next primary, if he runs. Abbott is next on everyone’s mind. Though the Governor himself has sworn the two would not run against each other, the Attorney General may throw his hat in the ring anyway.

Aside from the aforementioned couple, Tom Pauken,  former Texas Workforce Commissioner and TXGOP Chairman as well as prominent secessionist Larry SECEDE Kilgore have officially entered the race, with or without Perry.

Lieutenant Governor
Dewhurst is running for re-election, with Land Commissioner Jerry Paterson and  Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples openly running against him. This has all been happening for awhile. The big question now is if Senator Patrick will enter the race, seeing as that Comptroller Susan Combs will not be.

Attorney General
Abbott presumably would run for re-election if he does not challenge Perry. If he does run for Governor, though, the AG’s seat would become open. Susan Reed, the hard hitting Bexar County DA, is the only name I have heard for this seat.

Land Commissioner
Jerry Patterson’s seat is, almost like a little prince’s birthright, already been bequeathed to George P. Bush. The fourth generation politician in the family is running for this seat with national backing.

Agriculture Commissioner
Todd Staples’ seat will be open, and I have heard nothing of it. Anyone? Bueller??

Comptroller
As I stated yesterday, Senator Glenn Hegar and former County Party Chairwoman Debra Medina are already in the fray, while State Senator Tommy Williams and State Representative Harvey Hilderbrand are openly discussing the idea. Former representative Raul Torres and former Speaker Tom Craddick (I kid you not, from the Morning News) are also listed among the more dark house candidates.

Democrats
As I said yesterday, no Democrat who holds any public office has declared for a statewide thus far. With special, young candidates like Julian Castro and Wendy Davis not running, the Democratic lineup this year is just like the Astros’–it just doesn’t matter.

BOR has more. Also, we at Texpatriate are now on our own website. Though the old URL still redirects here.