The Dallas Morning News reports on a bombshell of an announcement that was broken late last night by the paper as well as KTRK (Channel 13) in Houston. State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston), a candidate in the Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor, has taken some notoriety for being aggressively anti-immigrant. In fact, he regularly uses the phrase “invasion” to talk about the travel of undocumented immigrants into this country. Of course, net migration from Mexico stands at zero, but I suppose that is neither here nor there. Accordingly, it was big deal last night when the Morning News noted that Sen. Patrick has a history of hiring undocumented immigrants as employees.
The Morning News confirmed that, back in the 1980s, at least four undocumented immigrants were hired by Sen. Patrick. Furthermore, Sen. Patrick was alleged to be a very gracious and compassionate employer to these individuals, later even vouching for them as they applied for citizenship. It is worth noting, of course, that employing undocumented immigrants was not a criminal offense at that time as it is today.
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The Associated Press reports that State Senator Wendy Davis, the presumptive Democratic nominee for Governor, has announced her support for “Open Carry,” the idea of carrying an uncovered handgun on your hip, in full public view. As the Press notes, this recent lurch to the right puts her on similar ground to Attorney General Greg Abbott, the likely Republican nominee for Governor, on the issue.
Davis did qualify her remarks by noting that training requirements, background checks and other restrictions upon gun ownership and use would still be both feasible and needed. She also reiterated a belief that private-property owners should decide what type of guns should be allowed on their properties. If this sounds familiar, it sure is. The idea of private-property rights running roughshod over Second Amendment rights has actually been found in the Republican primaries, notably with Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.
For this new revelation, Davis has received attacks from all sides. A local gun control organization roundly criticized her for being complicit in the rise of what they called a “strange” new trend. The NRA, as well as Greg Abbott’s campaign, also lambasted Davis’ change of heart as too little, too late.
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Cartoonist Nick Anderson at the Houston Chronicle recently depicted the four candidates in the Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor as neanderthals. Indeed, the candidates have incessantly one-upped each other in a desperate race of conservatism to the extreme. Whether this has been on the issue of abortion, creationism or the role of the government funding, each and every candidate has espoused dangerous political positions that have the capacity to turn back the clock on the progress of a healthy society.
However, instead of focusing on the drawbacks of the candidates, this board will focus on their strengths. Among the four candidates –incumbent David Dewhurst, State Senator Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples– this board has found two distinct categories that we have rewarded those running. First, there is the capacity for effective leadership demonstrated in the past. Second, there continue to be those bright spots –albeit few and far in between– wherein some candidates have let their pragmatism and common sense shine through, often to the detriment of their standing with the hard-right primary voters.
When it comes to leadership, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst is the hands down winner. For over eleven years, Dewhurst has led a State Senate that has retained a club-like, easy going attitude, often in sharp contrast to the petty bickering both in the lower house and in Washington D.C. This is chiefly due to the retention of a safeguard against the tyranny of the majority, a dilatory tactic known as the “two-thirds rule,” which allows a union of at least 11 Senators to hold up legislation. Additionally, Dewhurst has historically heralded bipartisanship by appointing nearly a half-dozen Democrats to lead some of the most important Committees in the chamber, including those in charge of Criminal Justice, Education and Veterans.
Click here to read the full endorsement!
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.
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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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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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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.
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