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Friday, April 13th 2007

They Man Who Dreamed To Be Governor

Via Burnt Orange Report comes a pretty funny video of Texas State Senator Dan Patrick going at it over the budget on the Senate floor.


This Is A Houston Chronicle Podcast of the “Meltdown”

The video and audio got me thinking about Sen. Patrick again and about the 2010 Texas Gubernatorial race. I’m not a state politics fiend, by any stretch of the imagination, but my involvement with organized medicine and health policy efforts has educated me a little bit on the subject. And let me just say the 2010 race is shaping up, even more than three years out, as a doozie.

For those of you who don’t know Dan Patrick was a conservative radio talk show host down in Houston before his decision to play politician.

Patrick goes beyond the talk radio stereotype of the millionaire egocentric self-promoter who repeats the xenophobic talking points that allow white, middle-age males to think they are an oppressed minority. On air, Patrick cornered the market on attacking not just the usual political enemies — the growing Hispanic population and Democrats — but going after moderate Republicans who did not see policy differences as personal differences. This style has made Patrick more enemies than a satirically racist Backpage editor — but it has also brought him fame, fortune and electoral victory.

Now Patrick will try to bring his slash-and-burn politics from Houston’s radio waves to the Texas Senate, and very few people are happy, including Patrick’s fellow Republicans. Former state Senator Jon Lindsay, whom Patrick is replacing, has expressed extreme doubts about Patrick. “I think he would be terrible in the Senate,” Lindsay said in an interview with the Texas Observer. “He’d be a difficult person for the lieutenant governor and the leadership to work with.”

There is almost no doubt that he wants to be Governor. I first heard talk of such probably in September of 2006. Well before election day. There’s a good chance he knew his state senate seat was a stepping stone from the moment he declared.

By now Patrick’s intentions are clearly in the mainstream. This is a January 2007 Texas Monthly article which while you need a subscription to read, does have a subtitle for the article which reads,

If you think dan patrick has made a lot of noise as a radio talk show host, wait until he gets to the Texas senate—and starts his campaign for governor against his new boss, David Dewhurst.

And, indeed, Dewhurst is the clear favorite to replace Perry.

[H]e has spent more than $3 million on television advertising — more than some gubernatorial candidates — and several hundred thousand dollars on slick mailouts, presenting himself as a protector of children who will crack down on sexual predators and improve the public schools.

His goal is to boost his name identification — many Texans don’t know who the lieutenant governor is — and move to the head of the line for a step up four years from now.

Texas is in an odd situation. Unlike most states the Lieutenant Governor is incredibly powerful. By some accounts the most powerful man in Austin with his broad authority over the going ons in the Senate. This sets Dewhurst up nicely, despite his lack of name recognition.

As well, Perry has been in a precarious position over the end of his last term. His popularity has been poor, which prompted enormous speculation that U.S. Senator Hutchinson would enter the 2006 Gubernatorial race and try to unseat Perry in the Republican primary. However, Perry is not term limited come 2010. He could run again.

Dewhurst has long acknowledged his intentions to run for governor in 2010. Most likely, he is assuming that Gov. Rick Perry, with whom he campaigned last week, will be re-elected and won’t run again. Perry has been coy about his plans, but friends think Dewhurst will run in 2010, regardless of what Perry does or doesn’t do.

I guess there’s considerable speculation that Perry will not however seek a third full term.

Adding to the “doozie” factor for the race, the Senator Hutchinson talk from last year is already spilling over for the 2010 race.

And then of course there’s Dan Patrick, who made his intentions for 2010 even further clear by apparently sending out statewide mailings before his 2006 Senate election.

Patrick’s little tiff in the Senate can’t really hurt him I suppose. The man feeds off publicity, no matter the source. This is a man who has introduced a bill, which I’ve blogged on before, to pay Texas women $500 not to have an abortion.

The second clause of the actual bill reads:

(b) The program must include a $500 payment to each woman who is a resident of this state and a citizen of the United States who places a child for adoption rather than have an abortion.

This is a man who (jokingly) wanted to put a clause in a Senate resolution praising Vince Young, stating it was the state’s position that the Tennessee Titans should trade Young to the Houston Texans.


He’d Look Pretty Good In A Texans Uniform

This is a man who praised religious freedom as he boycotted the morning Senate prayer because it would be given by an Imam.

“I surely believe that everyone should have the right to speak, but I didn’t want my attendance on the floor to appear that I was endorsing that.”

“In many parts of the world, I know that Jews or Christians would not be given that same right, that same freedom,” [Patrick] said.

“The imam that was here today, he was fortunate to be in this great country.”

In praise of Patrick, at least when he speaks (and he had years of practice at that on air), he’s a true fiscal conservative. With the national condition the past several years and growing conservative disillusionment Patrick clearly has part of the anti-tax, fiscal responsibility vote wrapped up.

But whatever your opinion of Senator Dan Patrick, he will certainly make the 2010 Gubernatorial race interesting.

Imagine a Hutchinson v. Patrick v. Dewhurst v. Perry campaign? And that would just be the Republican primary!

While that might be a dream, in terms of entertainment value, a Dan Patrick match up with any combination of those candidates is sure to be interesting.

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