AUSTIN -- The battle for the Republican nomination for Texas lieutenant governor has grown increasingly heated as the May 27 runoff election nears.
It's a race that's featured fierce exchanges and ferocious advertisements, but state Sen. Dan Patrick says his fight to unseat incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst isn't personal. A recent Internet video produced by Dewhurst's campaign featuring a likeness of Patrick lip-synching a musical parody has quickly garnered more than 40,000 views. Asked for his take on the video, Patrick called it silly.
We have serious issues facing the State of Texas, Patrick said. We're in very good shape, but we have a lot of challenges ahead. Property taxes are skyrocketing. People can't afford to live in their homes even if they're paid for. We have a crisis in education with the 40 to 50 percent dropout rate in our inner city schools. Our border is not secure.
Pitching himself as a Christian first, conservative second and a Republican third, Patrick has run a campaign with a particularly heavy focus on border security. Patrick's campaign ads have sought to bolster his own border bona fides while challenging Dewhurst's record on the issue. Patrick also accuses the incumbent of spending millions on negative advertising to fend of his challenger. Asked by KVUE why the race has become so bitter, Patrick pointed to Dewhurst.
You'd have to ask him. We have not been bitter, Patrick answered. You know we point out to contrast what he has helped pass, and what I have passed. We talk about leadership because there's been a lack of leadership -- that's why I'm running -- particularly in this last session that culminated with the filibuster. But I'm not going to comment on his campaign strategy, because it's not working.
Patrick released polling numbers Monday that suggest he's in the lead, with 50 percent of likely Republican runoff voters compared to Dewhurst's 36 percent -- a 14 point advantage. The challenger also announced an endorsement Monday by Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson. The influential evangelical leader has been no stranger to controversy, having accused same-sex equality advocates of wanting to lower the age of consent for children and recently calling President Obama the abortion president.
Clearly Barack Obama is the abortion president, Patrick answered in response to whether he agreed with Dobson's sentiments, but told KVUE he hadn't heard of the statement concerning same-sex equality advocates Dobson made in a post discussing the Boy Scouts of America.
You know I'm an unapologetic Christian, said Patrick. I'm a bold, grassroots conservative, and I'm a proud Reagan Republican, and so having James Dobson especially in this campaign is very meaningful.
In addition to border security, Patrick says one major policy priority would be reducing property taxes.
What we have to do is disconnect the tax rate from the value, said Patrick, comparing the approach to a see-saw. As your value goes up, effective tax rate goes down no more than population and inflation, which is three or four percent.
Patrick suggests that could slow the growth of property taxes from doubling every six years or so in fast-growing areas such as Austin to doubling after twenty years. While such a change would also slow the growth of city and county governments, Patrick says the burden would be on those governments to put their case to voters if more revenue is needed.
With electric automaker Tesla back in the headlines this week as states compete to host the site of a new gigafactory to produce electric car batteries, the role of incentives in luring big business to Texas is once again front and center. Patrick argues that an educational system producing a workforce of highly qualified employees -- coupled with already low tax and regulatory burdens -- will be incentive enough.
I think Texas on its own can attract industry without those incentives, said Patrick. I'm not a guy who supports giving your company money but not this company.