AUSTIN -- Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R-Texas) will begin his battle for reelection having struck the final gavel, sending sweeping new abortion regulations to the governor and earning the endorsement of abortion opponents.
A recent video released by his campaign hails Dewhurst as "Defender of the Pre-Born," and one who delivered on a promise to social conservatives to pass the anti-abortion omnibus House Bill 2. Despite more than $1.7 million in his campaign account, a personal fortune and statewide name recognition, Dewhurst will face fierce competition.
After a raucous crowd and filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) combined to derail the identical Senate Bill 5 at the end of the first special session of the Texas Legislature called by Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), radio host and state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston)declared his own candidacy for Dewhurst's position.
"Let's just say Tuesday was an example of why we need new leadership," Patrick told media gathered for his campaign announcement in June. With $2.1 million on hand and the endorsement of Fox News talk show host and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Patrick has cast himself as an "authentic conservative leader."
"An authentic conservative is someone who doesn't wake up every morning wondering what they stand for," Patrick explained. A stalwart supporter of the anti-abortion bill, Patrick earned the praise of many social conservatives after a speech on the night of the Senate's final vote on HB 2 in which he asked the chamber, "How would God vote tonight if he were here?"
With nearly $3 million, the largest war chest belongs to Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. A former member of both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate, in which Staples led the passage of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Staples has made border security and immigration reform high priorities during his tenure as Texas Agriculture Commissioner, a cause detailed in his recent book Broken Borders, Broken Promises.
"I'm committed to running for lieutenant governor in 2014," Staples told KVUE in a February interview focused on border security, in which he called for increased technology deployed along the border as well as an overhaul of the current legal immigration system. "I realize our border security can greatly be enhanced if we modernize our antiquated and dilapidated work and immigration programs."
With $1.3 million on hand, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has the least money in his campaign account. Yet Patterson has vowed his campaign will remain competitive, telling KVUE he plans to raise an additional $3 million over the next six month period.
"I tell people that there's one guy in this race that has a history of leading, of inspiring and of motivating on controversial issues throughout my career," said Patterson. Architect of the Texas concealed handgun law and the "Texas Solution," a guest worker program for undocumented immigrants adopted by the state party in 2012, Patterson hopes to highlight his record as a Marine Corps veteran and former member of the Texas Senate.
"I will execute. I will lead," said Patterson. "I have a history of doing that and that history is far in excess of the other folks who are seeking this office."
"To me what it shows is you're going to have a four-way race for lieutenant governor to the very end," said Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak. "And that these four candidates are all going to fight for two spots in the runoff."
Despite some speculation that the lieutenant governor's race may offer a competitive spot for rising Democratic party favorite Davis, no big-name Democrats have cast their name into the hat yet. Meanwhile the primary election isn't until next spring, which means voters will have plenty of time to decide.