Dewhurst: "God help Texas" if Patrick strong-arms Senate

AUSTIN -- The temperature between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and his challenger, state Sen. Dan Patrick, is only growing hotter as the May 27 Republican runoff nears.

Broadcast airwaves and Internet bandwidth both play host to attacks from either campaign, with the accusations often pointed and personal. Asked by KVUE in an interview Monday why the race has become so bitter, Patrick pointed the finger at his opponent, You'd have to ask him. We have not been bitter.

Well that's funny, Dewhurst responded in an interview with KVUE Tuesday from Dallas/Fort Worth sister station WFAA. Dewhurst pointed out that Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples both accused Patrick of falsehoods before being defeated in the GOP primary. The incumbent also said he met with Patrick personally early on.

He said, 'Let's have a positive campaign,' Dewhurst told KVUE. And I said, 'Fine, Dan. I've been saying nothing but compliments. I've been talking about policy. I've been correcting some of your misstatements -- but perfect. Let's go forward.' And then the first ad he puts up, he says that he's the only candidate in the race that hasn't expanded benefits for illegals when he knows the bill I passed in 2005 restricted benefits for illegal aliens. And it's just gone downhill for him from there.

Dewhurst addressed criticism over one of his own campaign's attack ads featuring a shirtless Patrick, which became a heated subject in their final televised debate. After finding out that the photos were taken as part of a Be an Angel Charity auction benefiting disabled children, Dewhurst said he called the charity and offered his apologies. Asked by KVUE Tuesday why the ads are still running, Dewhurst said they shouldn't be.

Those were to be taken down several days ago, in fact we have a different spot which is up now, answered Dewhurst, who accuses Patrick of playing the victim despite proudly posting the photos on his Facebook page. Meanwhile, he says, the claims in the ad remain true.

Debating last week, Patrick said if elected lieutenant governor he would block legislation he's opposed to -- like another equal pay bill -- from coming up for a vote, even if supported by a majority of senators. Dewhurst warnedMonday that the lieutenant governor's job is President of the Texas Senate -- not God. Dewhurst explained Tuesday that each of the 31 members of the Texas Senate were elected by voters and should be respected accordingly.

I don't believe in running roughshod over people, Dewhurst elaborated. At the end of the day, I believe in my conservative values both fiscally and socially, and I'm going to push those as effectively and as convincingly as I can. I'm going to be twisting arms; I'm not going to be acting like God in the Senate. All that's going to get Dan Patrick if he wins is the senators are going to change the rules, and then we're going to have a meltdown in the Senate, no leadership -- and God help Texas.

While both Patrick and Dewhurst have voiced support for lowering the current 2/3 vote threshold to bring bills to the floor which ensures Democrats have a say, Patrick has said he would remove Democrats from all but one or two committee chairmanships. Dewhurst on Tuesday cited a Houston Chronicle editorial and questions raised by Patterson -- now a Dewhurst ally -- over the possibility of a Senate revolt. As the upper chamber's presiding officer for more than a decade, Dewhurst says the lieutenant governor's election may come from voters, but his power comes from senators.

As we know from scripture, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, said Dewhurst. The senators could change the rules. If they do that, you no longer have the Texas lieutenant governor as the strongest lieutenant governor in the entire country. You probably have in that case the lieutenant governor being one of the weakest lieutenant governors.

On Monday, Patrick's campaign released numbers from a private polling firm that showed them leading by double digits, 50 percent to 36 percent among likely GOP runoff voters. Asked how he expects to win on May 27, Dewhurst called the survey results into question.

I don't think his numbers are correct, said Dewhurst, who told KVUE data from his own campaign's polling firm shows him within single digits and closing. I expect us to catch up those last five or six points and be ahead by this time next week.

To do that, Dewhurst says he's selling his business experience and long legislative record to voters down the final stretch. If reelected, he vows to continue work on border security, property tax cuts and public education issues.

I don't want to see Texas take a step back, and I'm afraid that's what would happen with the election of Dan Patrick. I want to move this state forward, said Dewhurst. Again, Texas is doing better than any other state, and I want to keep Texas number one in jobs and number one in opportunity so you've got as much or more opportunities than all of us have had growing up to live your version of the American dream.


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