Evan Smith interviews Sen. Dan Patrick on policy issues at TribLive.

Yesterday I was able to attend a TribLive event with the always-witty Evan Smith from the Texas Tribune, and a frontrunner in the race for Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick.

The first issue on the agenda was addressing the recent report that Sen. Patrick, a staunch pro-lifer, had invested in Plan-B emergency contraception with Teva Pharmaceuticals. Patrick explained that he uses a private money manager and did not know that he had invested in the company, a deal that eventually lost him money. Patrick went on to say that digging into his personal life reflected poorly on the Dewhurst campaign.

This was the perfect segue to discuss the race for Lieutenant Governor. Sen. Patrick said he had no intention of running for the position until it became apparent that Texas was in need of new leadership after the Wendy Davis filibuster.

He also clarified that he is not running against David Dewhurst, he is running for the vision he has for Texas and for the issues that matter to conservatives.  It is no secret that Sen. Patrick has been “Tea party before Tea party was cool,” as Evan Smith put it, but what issues will define his conservative platform in a race of all Republicans?

  • Border Security and Immigration: Crime along the border has risen and residents in the Valley no longer feel safe in their communities. Because the problem has escalated, Patrick said the state government has implemented a “limited-time-only” approach to bolster security in South Texas. As Lieutenant Governor, Sen. Patrick will maintain this heightened level of security at all times.
  • School Choice: Without providing much detail as to how, Sen. Patrick affirmed that school choice legislation would be passed if he were elected. But with public school choice already in existence and the passage of Senate Bill 2, which increases the cap of charter school licenses given by the state, one can only assume that Sen. Patrick was referring to the traditionally unpopular voucher bill (which is used interchangeably with “tuition tax credits.”) For a good portion of this discussion, he focused on disabled students who could not attend schools that fit their specific needs and inner-city students who were trapped in failing school.

Other topics covered included Sen. Patrick’s reputation with other Senators, removing the two-thirds rule and the 2014 elections – which will be an unprecedented exchange of power that includes both the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Texas.

Sen. Patrick also criticized the amount of Democrats chosen to chair committees, even though that number was proportionate to the ratio of Dem’s and Rep’s in the body. If elected, Sen. Patrick would appoint Republicans for these positions because they represent the majority of Texas. In other words, if Texans are electing Republicans, Republicans should be making the key decisions. This led to a follow up question from Smith, “Are you running to be Lieutenant Governor of the whole state or just the Republican party?”

Only time will tell. This race has an entire spectrum of conservatives for voters to chose from. It will be interesting to see how this develops and the final results in November of 2014.


-Jarred Gammon