lieutenant governor

Governor-elect Greg Abbott speaks at a press conference following his victory over Wendy Davis.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Associate Editor Noah M. Horwitz put it well Tuesday in his blog post when he noted the departure of outgoing Gov. Rick Perry’s moderate conviction politics and the arrival of incoming Gov. Greg Abbott’s brand of right-wing lunacy.

“Fast forward to today, and everything has changed,” Horwitz said. “Compared with Abbott and Dan Patrick, the new lieutenant governor, Perry is on the centrist end of his state party.”

The new governor bore him out on this point Tuesday morning. If you want any indication of where Abbott’s moral compass lies, look no further than his inaugural address.

While unsurprising for its policy proposals, including unsnarling traffic, implementing new solutions for drought-stricken towns and lessening the creeping influence of the federal government on state affairs, the “More We Must Do” speech, so titled for the anaphoric exhortations to do more for and better by the people of Texas, was shot through with references to religion, the Scriptures and, surprisingly but tellingly, the modern evangelical anthem “You Raise Me Up.” 

We’ve reviewed each of Perry’s inaugural addresses, and as we suspected and remembered, none were as overtly religious as Abbott’s was Tuesday.

Much was made during the gubernatorial campaign of Abbott’s rock-ribbed conservatism and whether or not it would exceed Perry’s. Abbott has left us in absolutely no doubt about that. If he can be said to have done one thing extremely well Tuesday, it was to have differentiated himself right out of the gate from his predecessor.

We do not grudge the man his religion. He is entitled to it just as anyone else is. But the effects of his infusion of religion into the office could be manifold. As Abbott has made abundantly clear, his religion drives everything. That wouldn’t be such a problem if it didn’t harm the less privileged so disproportionately and lead to policies that skirt the First Amendment. His faith is the justification for his objection to abortion rights and climate change policy, to name just two issues, as well as his support for such overtly religious displays as the Ten Commandments on state property.   

The U.S. Constitution enshrines the right of the people to be free from “law[s] respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The idea was that no one should be punished for not adhering to the dominant religion.

But under Abbott, as well as fellow traveler Dan Patrick, who was sworn in as lieutenant governor Tuesday, we have to wonder even more than we did with Perry whether that will remain true. We fear what this will mean for the future course of Texas politics, because while Abbott is just one man and will only be governor for so long, his actions could have ramifications that could be felt for decades to come.

Only time will tell.

Abbott is the next Governor. How will he lead?

This January, the state of Texas will inaugurate a new Governor for the first time since I was in the first grade. To put that in perspective, the current freshmen had not started school yet and some kids currently in high school had yet to be born. On Tuesday night, we found out that Texans had chosen — rather decisively — the incumbent Attorney General, Greg Abbott, to be that individual, our state's 48th Governor.

Governor-elect Abbott received a mandate from Texans; to argue otherwise is just plain silly. He won Tuesday's election by a higher margin than Governor Rick Perry ever won by, in all three of his gubernatorial races. Abbott won more total votes than any other person who has ever run for governor. Accordingly, even though voter turnout was down, it is just naïve to claim the new governor will be riding into office with anything short of the backing of a majority of Texans.

Concurrent with Abbott's election as governor was Dan Patrick's election as lieutenant governor, a powerful position with almost despotic powers over the state Senate. Lieutenant governor-elect Patrick, a bombastic and tea party state senator, has already suggested he would bring up a plethora of conservative pipe dreams in the upcoming session, including a controversial proposal to allow students at public universities to bring their concealed handguns onto campus. While a Senate run by Patrick and packed with his friends would likely pass these measures, they could easily find themselves slowed in the House of Representatives, where Speaker Joe Straus, a comparatively moderate Republican, still reigns supreme.

Straus, left to his own devices, is not much for divisive social issues. A policy wonk and a pragmatist, he would instead focus on the real issues facing the state such as education and infrastructure. The type that requires the real dedication and seriousness that demagogues like Patrick loathe. Abbott is somewhere in the middle of those two philosophies.

This is why Abbott's leadership style will be so very important. If there is anything that Straus' record has shown us, it is that he will fold like a card table when pressured by the governor. When Perry pushed the omnibus anti-abortion legislation in the summer of 2013, Straus heralded it through the chamber to passage with alacrity. Left to his own devices, he would not wade into those uneasy waters, but he is more than willing to be pushed in.

Brian Sweany at Texas Monthly inquired on Wednesday as to how Abbott would lead once in office. Whether he would attempt to personally run the state like the incumbent or be more content to lurk in the shadows like predecessors. Those are important questions, but I think the most important one is if he will be more amenable to the ideology-based concerns of his Lieutenant Governor, or the pragmatism-based ones of his speaker of the House.

I hope it is the latter.

Horwitz is an associate editor.

As lieutenant governor, Patrick won't help Texas

Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Patrick beat State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in the lieutenant governor race Tuesday evening.
Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Patrick beat State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in the lieutenant governor race Tuesday evening.

Our newly-elected lieutenant governor is a radio shock jock who somehow became a state senator, and this is definitely the greatest disappointment of last night's election results. The results certainly didn't come as a surprise, but Texans should still be distressed that the person who will soon hold the most powerful political office in Texas is terrible at compromising and just has generally awful ideas that will make some Texas laws and policies even more ridiculous and unfair than they already are.

Dan Patrick's low-profile campaign employed an impeccable strategy: the less that people know about him, the better. Yes, Texas Republican leaders have successfully led job creation in our state (as Gov. Rick Perry so wisely points out with a chart he brought to the Texas Tribune Festival in September), which is an undeniable benefit to Texas, but Patrick himself hasn't had much part in that. He has focused primarily on making life worse for Texans.

Patrick touts himself as a champion of education, but he voted against an education funding increase in 2013, and later stated that he "led the charge to restore most of the education cuts in the [2013] session." Apparently voting against a bill is now synonymous with leading the efforts to pass the bill.

He also appears set on pushing a school voucher program through during the next legislative session. Many school advocacy groups have cited research showing vouchers' lack of academic benefits for students, and past legislative sessions have shown most lawmakers firmly against these programs. Also, a voucher program likely wouldn't increase charter school attendance by much anyway. In Cleveland, only 21 percent of voucher students attended public schools previously. Vouchers usually provide parents with just a portion of the tuition required to send their children to private schools, so it's unlikely that low-income parents who receive these vouchers will somehow find the remaining money necessary to fund a private education.

In another example of his absurd ideas, Patrick said in January that creationism in schools should be taught, “triumphed [and] heralded," apparently forgetting about — or just blatantly disregarding — the constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state, an essential component of the country's education system. His opponent in the primary, David Dewhurst, suggested teaching both creationism and evolution, but Texas doesn’t like to elect reasonable people. Patrick introduced the 2011 sonogram bill, successfully making abortions even more traumatic for women while benefitting absolutely no one, and he sponsored the completely unnecessary 2011 voter ID law, bravely combatting the rampant voter impersonation (an earth-shattering number of two cases between 2000 and 2012) raging through Texas.

Patrick's election is a huge step backward, and I hope voters realize quickly what a mistake they made by choosing this man. However Patrick attempts to implement his crazy plans during the 2015 legislative session, we can be sure they won't benefit many Texans.

Voeller is an associate editor.

Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Patrick beat State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in the lieutenant governor race Tuesday evening.

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

HOUSTON — In a landslide victory, State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, was elected lieutenant governor Tuesday, defeating State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio.

Patrick, a Houston radio talk show host with Tea Party support, performed strongly in the four-man primary and defeated incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a runoff.

With more than 93 percent of precincts reporting at press time, Patrick received 58 percent of the vote, whereas Van de Putte received 39 percent.

At his election night party in Houston, Patrick opened with a Bible verse before discussing immigration, education and the changing role of Texas in national politics. 

“I’ve met the spirit of Texas by meeting people where they live and listening to what they want,” Patrick said. “What they want is a public servant who will serve them. Here I am tonight to say to every Texan that I’m here to serve you so that Texas can be a servant to the world that is broken, that is hurting and needs leadership.” 

Patrick said he has already started speaking with newly elected Gov. Greg Abbott about their plans for the Texas-Mexico border. 

“I believe that we’re a nation of immigrants,” Patrick said. “We need legal immigration reform from Washington. They failed us. … We have a responsibility of law and order to protect every Texan.”

Patrick said he is looking forward to working closely with the Texas Senate. 

“I am blessed to come into a Senate that has very bright and capable people,” Patrick said. “I will be a lieutenant governor who will empower them to lead, to help craft the solutions [and] to address all these issues that we have ahead of us. I believe that Texas is America’s last hope. … We’re going to make Texas even greater in the days ahead.”

At her election night party in San Antonio, Van de Putte thanked her supporters and family and said there was still work to be done. 

Van de Putte, who will continue to serve in her state Senate seat, said she was aware of the challenges she would face in the election from the very beginning of her campaign. 

“From the first time we announced for this position of lieutenant governor, I knew what I was going to be fighting for,” Van de Putte said. “I knew what the issues were about in this state, and I knew the heart of the people in this state.” 

Van de Putte said she was proud of the work she put into the campaign, despite the losing the race. 

“Although the results didn’t come our way tonight, I know that I am so proud to have been that servant leader — to be up on that ballot,” Van de Putte said. “This race was an uphill battle. I’m so proud of the millions that were raised, of the issues that were brought up.”

Student Avrey Vasquez said he was not surprised by Van de Putte’s defeat but was proud of her courage in overcoming obstacles set up by the election.

“It’s sad, but I think she did well,” Vasquez said. “She’s such a big underdog, and she overcame a lot to get to where she is.”

Mike Lewcun, a Patrick supporter from Sugar Land, said he was relieved by Patrick’s victory. 

“I support what [Patrick] believes in,” Lewcun said. “Border issues are important to me. If we don’t have a secure border, we don’t have a secure anything.”

Mekelburg reported from Houston, and Sullivan reported from San Antonio.

Editor’s Note: Early voting for the Nov. 4 election begins Oct. 20 and ends Oct. 31.

The lieutenant governor of Texas has often been hailed as the most powerful official in the Texas Legislature. With nearly despotic powers over the Texas Senate, the lieutenant governor controls the agendas, the composition of committees and the general demeanor of the chamber. These duties, however, are not guaranteed by the state constitution; instead, they only occur with the consent of the state senators themselves. If so organized, a majority of 16 could vote at the beginning of a session to strip the lieutenant governor of all power beyond breaking ties if so inclined. Thus, with the incumbent lieutenant governor David Dewhurst being replaced after a dozen years in office, it is important to find a replacement willing to get along with other senators and continue the delicate agreement.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the Republican candidate for the post, is not that person. A demagogue willing to take on extreme positions, he prioritizes divisive social issues over real solutions to solve the complex problems that Texas currently faces. Instead of coming up with a plan to make our roads and highways the envy of the world once more, Patrick merely quips in broad platitudes about “securing the border,” using dangerous scare tactics, such as equating undocumented immigrants with disease-carrying invaders. On Oct. 8, he claimed that ISIS was crossing the border with Mexico en masse. Such an assertion, of course, is patently absurd. Last session, when the Legislature was debating how best to restore austerity cuts to education earlier inflicted, Patrick talked out of both sides of his mouth too often to keep track. Despite campaigning for the restoration in front of cameras, he ultimately voted against the budget in order to save his reputation among arch-conservatives. An advocate of school choice, Patrick believes that funding public schools is futile because of their underperformance. Still, he continues to claim that he was a leading advocate for the restoration, a charge that earned him a “pants on fire” rating from Politifact.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio and the Democratic candidate, is the polar opposite. Though she can also be fiery and partisan in front of television cameras, she has a proven track record of working behind-the-scenes with legislators of both parties to implement common-sense goals. Be it education, transportation or budget affairs, Van de Putte is not merely content submitting a sound bite; rather, she wants to actually do what is right.

Further, while the phrase “reaching across the aisle” is ubiquitous in clichés of politics, no such aisle exists in the Texas Senate. The senators simply all sit together. The seating is representative of a larger principle of nonpartisanship in the body, best enforced by a rule compelling legislation to stay off the floor unless two-thirds of lawmakers assent to its consideration. The rule, which dates back to the days when Democrats controlled all 31 senate seats, is designed to foster consensus, not facilitate gridlock. Patrick wants to do away with the rule, or lower the threshold to 60 percent, which is conspicuously just below the portion of the chamber that Republicans control; Van de Putte wants to retain the threshold. Without the rule, the Texas Senate will descend into partisan bickering, a cacophony indistinguishable from the mess in Washington.  

At its core, that is what this race is about. Van de Putte represents the Texas values of old. Patrick, on the other hand, is just more of the same grandstanding ever-present in the Capitol and sadly rearing its ugly head more and more often in Texas. Let’s keep the state strong and restore it to its earlier successes. Vote for Van de Putte.

State Sens. Dan Patrick and Leticia Van De Putte participate in last Monday's lieutenant governor debate. 

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Last Monday, lieutenant governor hopefuls Dan Patrick and Leticia Van de Putte battled it out in their only scheduled debate before November’s election. The two Senators, who have sat together in the Senate for eight years, clashed over a number of issues in the hour-long debate, sparring over everything from education to border surges to the issue of marriage equality.

Patrick is something of a shoo-in to win the election, boasting a double-digit lead and the endorsement of many business associations throughout the state. He has a strong record of job creation and goals to cut property taxes, both of which ensure widespread popularity in the economic sector. And his views on border surges and abortion laws are somewhat uncontested — this is Texas, after all. He is a Republican representing an overwhelming majority of Republicans, and for the most part, he seems to be relatively in touch with voters.

The issue he would do well to distance himself from, however? Same-sex marriage.

Though the Republican Senator maintains a tellingly significant 15-point lead, much of his approval stems from his approach to business, not from a social issue that is largely beyond his reach. And by insisting on offering unsolicited opinions on an issue that many have declined to politicize, Patrick is damaging his reputation with an increasingly frustrated proportion of Texas voters — moderate Republicans.

“Texas has spoken,” Patrick declared, speaking to the ban on same-sex marriage that was later overturned by a federal judge. “The people of Texas believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”

And Van de Putte, whose retorts often appeared scripted and awkward, was at her best during her petition for same-sex marriage. “People’s attitudes are changing,” she declared confidently. “What we voted on back then, I don’t think would be the same results now.”

Yes, Patrick is a staunchly conservative candidate, and he has every right to represent his electorate on any issue he pleases. But if nothing else, the movement to “turn Texas blue” gains traction not from large-scale party flip-flopping from unsure younger voters but from representatives that insist on speaking out against this issue of equality. It is neither the right-to-life policies nor the border surges that are turning the rising generation of Texas voters off. It is a party unwilling to stop speaking out when political endorsements are somewhat unsolicited. 

Deppisch is a government senior from League City. Follow her on Twitter @b_deppy

Texas Sen.Wendy Davis speaks to supporters at a rally celebrating the one year anniversary of her filibuster of SB 5. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

One year after state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, delayed a vote on an anti-abortion bill with an 11-hour filibuster, a large crowd filled the Palmer Events Center on Wednesday as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Davis and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio and Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, talked about their top priority to include the voices of all Texans in the legislature.

“We will do these things because it’s both right and necessary,” Davis said. “We’ve got more work to do, more steps to take, a few more mountains to climb as we face the challenge of building the 21st century economy of this beautiful state, and as we do face those challenges.”

Davis’ filibuster did not ultimately stop the Texas Legislature from banning abortions 20 weeks after conception and regulating other aspects of abortion, but it did  delay the bill's passage. During the last minutes of the session, Van de Putte raised a parliamentary inquiry that many say set off 10 minutes of cheering, screaming and clapping from the gallery, delaying the vote. Van de Putte asked, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

At the event, Van de Putte said even after the demonstration last year, the legislature does not understand the wants of Texas women.

“We sent a clear message to our state and to our nation … that women would just no longer tolerate not being valued, not being listened to. That we would no longer tolerate their lack of trust to make personal decisions in our own lives,” Van de Putte said.

Both Davis and Van de Putte are trailing behind their Republican opponents, according to the most recent UT/Texas Tribune poll numbers. Attorney General Greg Abbott is 12 points ahead of Davis in the gubernatorial race, and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, is 15 points ahead of Van de Putte.

History senior Max Patterson, president of University Democrats and who has worked Students for Wendy, an on-campus student organization, said he thinks the state needs new leadership.

“Whenever we register somebody to vote, we gauge their support of Wendy Davis, talk to them a little bit about the path that Texas is going on with the current Republican leadership and the one that we would like to see [Texas] going on with more progressive leadership in the state capitol," Patterson said.

Patterson said he is excited about bringing the campaign to campus.

“It’s going to be a really fun campaign, but it’s also going to be a really important one for our community, for the whole state, because it’s really a very distinct choice that’s going to be made for the direction of our state,” Patterson said.

Correction: Due to an editing error, this story incorrectly reported Davis' filibuster was 13 hours long. It was in fact 11 hours long.

Texas State Sen. Dan Patrick speaks to press and supporters after defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in Tuesday's Republican primary runoff election for lieutenant governor. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

HOUSTON — With more than 65 percent of the vote, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, secured the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, defeating incumbent David Dewhurst in the runoff election Tuesday.

Patrick will face state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, in the November general election. In a speech, Patrick said he will start campaigning in areas where Democrats perform well, especially in minority communities.

“Starting this week, we are going to go into Democrat strongholds,” Patrick said. “Some Democrats have said they wanted me to be the nominee. Well they’ve got me, and I’m coming.”

Citing his recent debate on immigration with San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as an example, Patrick said he will talk with voters about the issues.

“Before you can get someone’s vote, you have to respect them enough to go talk with them and explain to them why,” Patrick said.

Dewhurst, who has served as lieutenant governor since 2003, said at his watch party that the new challenge his conservative constituents face is remaining united through November.  

“Serving as your lieutenant governor has been the second greatest honor I have ever received, other than [my wife] Trisha saying yes,” Dewhurst said.

Patrick won the four-person primary race in March with 41.5 percent of the vote, and Dewhurst came in second with 28.3 percent. Because no candidate received more than 50 percent, the race went to a runoff between Patrick and Dewhurst.

The race consisted of negative ads and campaigning from both sides. Earlier in May, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson released Patrick’s medical records, revealing Patrick spent time in a psychiatric hospital 30 years ago. Toni Fabry, a Patrick supporter from Frisco, said she was disappointed with the records release.

“I feel like it’s pretty sad that someone has to drag up issues from 30 years ago rather than dealing with the here and now,” Fabry said.

Carolyn Hodges, a UT alumna and former president of the Texas Federation of Republican Women, said at Dewhurst's watch party she found the election results and low voter turnout disappointing.

"I think it's a very sad night for Texas Republicans in looking towards the future for Texas," Hodges said.

Mark Breeding, a Dewhurst supporter and UT alumnus, said he believes Patrick would have a difficult time with the Texas Senate as lieutenant governor.

“I think there’s a lack of respect for Dan Patrick in the Senate—given his history—so I think it will be a problem for Texas,” Breeding said.

Breeding said he thinks voting is a civic duty and that low voter turnout played a large part in the outcome of the Republican runoff. According to the Texas Secretary of State, the statewide turnout was 5.5 percent for the race.

This article has been updated since its original posting.

Republican Texas lieutenant governor candidate Sen. Dan Patrick speaks during a debate at KERA studios in Dallas, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. 

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

It has been said over the course of this year’s statewide campaigns that Texas politics is a full-contact sport, one that draws blood. The recent flare-ups in the Republican primary runoff for lieutenant governor serve as evidence enough of this harsh reality. In the past week, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has been dragged through the mud on a number of different issues involving his personal life. First, a former rival of his — Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson — disclosed that Patrick had previously been admitted to a facility in order to seek treatment for depression. Furthermore, the allegation that Patrick has previously tried to kill himself, specifically by slitting his wrist, has been made in an attempt to damage his credibility among voters.

This editorial board has never been a fan of Patrick’s political positions. But no person, sympathetic politically or not, deserves the unfair onslaught that he has received from his adversaries. A person’s medical records should be kept confidential, and should definitely never be used in a harmful way against a candidate. Like any other illness or ailment, Patrick’s depression is not indicative of a character flaw and is truly irrelevant to the information voters need to make up their minds. To his credit, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Patrick’s opponent in next week’s runoff, has derided the cruel nature of these attacks.

However, we believe that the negative repercussions of these attacks reach much further than simply the lieutenant governor’s primary. We are particularly worried about the consequences of an uptick in negative stigma surrounding mental illness and its treatment. If just one person eschews treatment out of fear of bad publicity, or puts off what could be a promising career in politics because of past struggles with depression, it would be one person too many.

Mental illness is not something to be stigmatized. Like any other type of illness, it requires treatment without judgment or prejudice. If anything, the stable and healthy life that Patrick has lived in the 30 years since his struggles should be a testament to his success, an example that many of these afflictions do not have to carry such a terrible prognosis.

By dredging up these old stories, Patterson (and, indeed, all of Patrick’s most rabid detractors) cheapens the terms of the debate and lowers the bar, so to speak, in politics once again. We certainly think that Texans deserve better.

Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Leticia Van de Putte speaks on the West Mall on Monday evening. The Rally at UT Austin was a part of Van De Putte's nine day statewide bus tour which began March 30. 

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

In a rally on the West Mall on Monday, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio and the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, said bipartisan approaches to issues such as higher education are necessary in Texas state government.

The rally marked the last stop on Van de Putte’s statewide bus tour, which covered 16 cities in nine days. In the general election in November, Van de Putte will face either state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, or incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, depending on the result of a runoff election between the two Republican candidates that is scheduled for May 27.

“I heard loud and clear that what people want from their leaders is to focus on the priorities,” Van de Putte said. “Focus on problem solving and not partisan pettiness and politics that absolutely paralyze, like what we sometimes see in Washington D.C.”

Van de Putte said, 10 years ago, the business community, the Texas Legislature and state universities all worked together in efforts to have more tier-one, postsecondary institutions. She said that, because of the way the legislature has handled higher education since then, that goal has not materialized.

“You know, I know, and smart business people know the innovations and the programs, the learning that happens at our tier-one institutions, spark the economy,” Van de Putte said. “They give birth to your creative minds that are going to go out and have new products and services, new research and new and better ways to get things done.”

David Feigen, government senior and University Democrats president, said Republican candidates for lieutenant governor stand in the way of basic reforms of education, marriage inequality and immigration policy.

“This campus is very much ready for change in the lieutenant governor’s office,” Feigen said.

Sheryl Cole, Austin mayor pro tem and a Democrat, said it is historically significant to have two women at the top of the Democratic ticket.

“I think they will bring a balance to statewide politics,” Cole said. “I think [Van de Putte] brings a lot of vibrancy and energy that young people understand and appreciate.”

During the rally, Van de Putte said she hopes to unite everyone as Texans.

“I see the hopes of your parents and the prayers of your grandparents,” Van de Putte said. “So, as Democrats, I want us to all embrace these folks who are understanding our true values and what we’re focused on is the opportunity that’s always been Texas, not the issues that divide us, but the issues that make us stronger when we focus on what’s right for Texas.”