The Lt. Governor’s race presents plenty of irony, namely in that it features incumbent Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, whose lost the 2012 Senate race to Ted Cruz, and three statewide office holders, all running as staunch conservatives, who endorsed Dewhurst over Cruz in that race.
Dewhurst’s strengths and weaknesses are the same he displayed in that race. On the plus side, he’s run and won high-profile statewide races, he’s Independently wealthy and thus can self-fund to an extent others can’t, and he helped govern Texas during a time our prosperity, job creation and fiscal discipline have been the envy of most states. On the negative side, conservatives have long had numerous gripes about Dewhurst, complaining that he gives too much senate power to minority Democrats and gives them too many committee chairs, and that he thwarts conservatives in many ways great and small. As I wrote at the time, “Dewhurst occupies that vast gray area between a RINO (think Arlen Specter before he went The Full Benedict) and a real movement conservative.” The 2012 Senate race also showed that Dewhurst is a remarkably poor debater and off-the-cuff speaker who does not seem to think well on his feet, and losing to Cruz damaged his political reputation. His social media outreach was poor during the Senate run, but seems to have improved for this race. As in the Senate race, Dewhurst has garnered the lion’s share of business group endorsements (with Staples second), and the clear majority of newspaper endorsements (hardly a plus for most conservatives).
State Senator Dan Patrick has a solid conservative record, but also a bit of a reputation as both a hothead and (as a former sportscaster) a something of an intellectual lightweight who has been dinged by some for poor debate performances. (I did a phone interview with Patrick that may or may not see the light of day due to a technical malfunction; in my brief interview he seemed bright, articulate, and knowledgeable about the Lt. Governor’s role in managing the senate and staffing the Legislative Budget Board.) Patrick was widely seen as a foe of Dewhurst during the 2012 Senate race, but ended up endorsing him at the last minute. Patrick is widely perceived as the primary choice of many social conservatives, and was prominent in the fight for the anti-TSA groping bill (which he sponsored) and the anti-sanctuary cities bill. The fact that both Jerry Patterson and Todd Staples have been attacking him in ads suggests he is indeed in second place behind Dewhurst. He has has been endorsed by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Young Conservatives of Texas, several evangelical ministers, and the late Bum Philips (Patrick was a sportscaster during the Luv Ya Blue heyday of the Houston Oilers in the late 1970s and early 1980s).
Jerry Patterson, the incumbent Land Commissioner, came into the race with the most buzz among and support among Texas conservative insiders, but that doesn’t seem to have translated into sufficient polling popularity with voters, with Patterson sitting in fourth place in the latest poll. Patterson gets a lot of credit for having written the bill that became the Concealed Handgun License law, and received an A+ rating from the NRA (Dewhurst, Patrick and Staples all received As). Several Texas conservatives I respect are firmly in the Patterson camp. Patterson has been endorsed by Dick Armey and Ron Paul.
Todd Staples, the incumbent Agricultural Commissioner, comes in at third place in the most recent poll, well behind Dewhurst and Patrick, despite having raised the second most money in the race behind Dewhurst. Staples also has a reputation as a solid conservative, and as a state senator penned the state defense of marriage clause. At 50 he’s the youngest of the four candidates by a decade. He’s been stressing border security, on which he did some work from the Agriculture Department. Staples has been endorsed by Nolan Ryan. and some property rights groups.
Are the polls accurate? Hard to say. At this point in the 2012 Senate race, people were predicting a runoff between Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard on the Democratic side, and Hubbard ended up coming in fourth behind Addie Allen and the Grady Yarbrough juggernaut.
Whoever wins the Republican runoff (which looks very likely at this point) will face Democratic State Senator Leticia Van de Putte in the general.
Here is a debate between all four candidates:
Now some video ads from all four candidates. Dewhurst:
Now some race tidbits:
“Between Jan. 24 and Saturday, Dewhurst raised from others nearly $1.5 million — more than twice the amount drummed up in that period by the most successful of his competitors, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. Staples raised $650,000.”
Some of Dewhurst’s trail lawyer fund are also kicking money into his anti-Dan Patrick PAC: “The anti-Patrick PAC, Texans for Accountability, received $45,000 from Beaumont’s Provost Umphrey law firm, and a combined $25,000 from two women who identified themselves as paralegals for the Houston-based Gallagher law firm, headed by Mike Gallagher, former president of the Texas Trial Lawyer’s Association.”
Chart of advertising buys per candidate in statewide races.
The North Texas Tea Party issues no endorsement in the race.
All four candidates appear at a forum in Sugar Land.
KUHF panel thinks it’s a runoff between David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick.
David Bellow endorses Patrick.
Jerry Patterson’s attacks on Patrick are amounting to very little. I think the possibility that a sports bar Patrick owned in Houston in the early 1980s might have included illegal aliens among the staff is hardly going to come as a shock to just about any Texan.
Speaking of Patrick, an anti-Patrick PAC can’t even get its facts straight.
The New York Times weighs in on the race. It’s pretty much what you would expect
Patrick evidently had an amusing gay marriage typo on his Twitter account.
A look at Patterson’s support among Second Amendment supporters.
Waco Tribune interviews Patterson.
Staples campaigns in Plano.
The Austin American Statesman endorses Dewhurst.