Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst got some good news this weekend in his uphill battle to hold onto his job. A former foe, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, told KERA he will be endorsing Dewhurst. The news comes two days after Dewhurst, the incumbent, and Dan Patrick, the frontrunner, debated in Houston.
On primary night in March, Patrick, a state senator from Houston, had a comfortable 13-point edge over Dewhurst. Third- and fourth-place finishers, Todd Staples and Patterson, together collected 30 percent of the votes – support that Dewhurst has to have to catch up.
Now with three weeks left until Republicans choose their nominee, Patterson tells KERA he will encourage his supporters to back Dewhurst.
“He thinks if I endorse him that may be helpful and I intend to do that,” Patterson said in a phone conversation Sunday.
Patterson says it's about telling the truth
Patterson says he’ll try to help Dewhurst because he says Patrick doesn’t always tell the truth.
“It is a very clear choice," Patterson told KERA. "We have a person who has consistently proven to be unable to tell the truth versus one who has had some hiccups along the way but is a substantially better choice for lieutenant governor than somebody who has a history of not being able to tell the truth.”
The question of who’s telling the truth has been a central theme as Dewhurst and Patrick go mano-a-mano in aggressive television ads.
Candidates take battle to the airways
Dewhurst’s latest ad continues to claim that Patrick has lied about his personal finances.
“We know Dan Patrick has been caught pocketing employees’ federal withholding taxes, caught not paying his taxes 28 times, caught hiding assets from his creditors,” the Dewhurst ad maintains.
Patrick says Dewhurst is making that up. He’s produced his own attack ad.
“Dewhurst’s lies won’t hide his failed record on illegal immigration," the Patrick ad claims. "Under Dewhurst’s leadership, the Senate passed an expansion of in-state tuition and free health care to illegal immigrants."
Sparring heats up in Friday debate
In their Friday night debate in Houston, Dewhurst called those statements false as he and Patrick clashed over immigration.
Each claimed to be the candidate who can secure the border. Dewhurst said he’s already made an impact with a pilot project that he called a surge.
“[We’ve appropriated] $800 million, high-altitude spotter aircraft, helicopters, gunboats," Dewhurst said. "We’ve got DPS [Department of Public Safety] on the ground. We showed in a one-month long empirical surge, Operation Strong Safety, that we could shut down the border -- illegal immigration, drugs, human trafficking.”
Patrick fired back.
“Yes they did run a surge," Patrick said. "But the difference is he cut border security spending in the last session. If he wanted to prioritize this why didn’t we fund it year-round? As lieutenant governor it won’t be a surge, it will be a 365 day, 24/7 operation by Texas law enforcement.”
During the debate, each candidate said creationism should be taught along with evolution. Patrick said he’d continue to fight for school choice. Dewhurst wants to find enough money to offer pre-kindergarten to all Texas 4-year olds.
But mostly the candidates argued over who has a record of integrity and of implementing a conservative agenda.
Patterson says he hopes to add to the debate by campaigning for Dewhurst.
“I talk to David frequently," Patterson told KERA. "I’m helping on some opposition research that I’ve had. I found out some things and was not able to use that information, didn’t have time to do so, and so I’m helping now and will continue to do so."
Staples, the other primary candidate, says he’s still not endorsing Dewhurst or Patrick.
Dewhurst responded to Patterson’s endorsement Sunday by saying: “To win the endorsement of a fellow veteran and public servant after such a tough primary battle is a real honor that strengthens my resolve to keep fighting for what's right."
A spokesman for Patrick said his campaign isn’t responding to Patterson’s endorsement or comments.
Because of a satellite problem, the TV feed that aired on KERA-TV (Channel 13) was in Spanish for the last 40 minutes of the debate. You can watch the debate on KERANews.org, and KERA-TV will re-air the Houston debate at 9 p.m Friday.