Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst likes to tout his conservative credentials, but according to Dan Patrick, he is just not conservative enough.
Last week during an extended interview with the Texas Tribune the Senator from Houston made his case to replace Dewhurst and previewed a Texas Senate with himself presiding. Patrick was critical of Dewhurst's handling of the special session agenda and said that the minority party is too powerful under the Senate's current rules and leadership.
Patrick was for Dewhurst before he was against him. He endorsed the Lt. Gov. just over a year ago for US Senate in his epic primary loss to Ted Cruz. Now Patrick has flip-flopped, endorsed Cruz and set his sights on the number 2 spot in Texas politics.
Find out below the jump which two major changes Dan Patrick would make that could drastically increase partisanship in the Senate chamber...
Patrick said he would ensure more conservative legislation reached the Senate floor by getting rid of the 2/3s rule. "I think the Democrats have abused the [2/3s] rule...It is the will of the Senate, but I will try and do everything I can to persuade the Republicans who return to join me and change it." The 2/3s rule has traditionally been used as a way to prevent the critical work of the Senate from being derailed by controversial issues but Patrick contends that, "the Democrats as the minority party are really controlling the agenda."
Patrick also believes that Dewhurst has been too generous with appointing Democrats to chair Senate committees, even though the partisan split is traditionally proportional to the Senate body.
"We'll review every committee and we will select the very best people who I believe have the experience the conservative credentials to chair those committees. Could there be one, could there be 2? There won't be 6....There could be none."
Patrick attacked Dewhurst more on style and less on substance. Having so recently been on record in support of the Lt. Gov. he focused on the most recent session and in particular the 3 special sessions which he says could have been avoided with better planning.
"The Lt. Gov. and the Speaker have to work together. We only had 4 bills to pass in 30 days. How is that you get down to the last day with 12 hour to go and you have only passed 1 of the 4 bills. Thats just poor leadership. You can't manage a calendar? We should have never been in that position."
He also went after the Lt. Gov. on his attendance record saying, "I'm going to show up for work. I don't know what the percentage of time Lt. Gov. was not there this session, but it was significant."
Patrick was critical of the Lt. Gov. for not supporting the school choice bill that he filed during the special session when it only required 19 votes to pass. He said it is one example of how he would be different.
"As Lieutenant Governor, I will pass this bill. I don't have to walk through the process with you. We will make the case, and we will pass that bill. And if it can't be passed in regular session, then in special session it will pass."
This is where Patrick earns his own criticism as a "snake oil salesman" and "narcissists," as one fellow Senator called him. He believes that he can convince minorities that he has their best interest in mind because well, "our failing schools are in our inner cities." Instead of offering a solution so no child has to attend a failing school Patrick wants to offer the chance to escape the inner city for some lucky child while his neighbors are still hopelessly bound to that same "failing school."
"Can you imagine being a poor parent in inner city whose son or daughter is zip coded to a school that the State of Texas says, "ma'am that's a failing school and we demand you send your child there?" That's unconscionable, it's immoral...It's not right for that family and it's not right for the state of Texas. And further when we had testimony on our school choice bill, two bus loads of African American parents and grandparents came down from Ft. Worth. It was such emotional testimony, but the last man who testified, I forget if he was a father or grandfather I can't even bring the passi--...even a...I'm very passionate about this...because I believe in it. When you rob a child of a chance of an education you rob a child of a future. Forty-three percent of the people born in poverty die in poverty because of education, and I'm going to fight for this Evan, and I'm going to pass it because it's the right thing to do.
But this grandfather got up, he was the last witness as I recall and he said, "ya know" and he looked at all of us, black, white and brown on that committee, Republican and Democrat, rural and urban, and he said, "I'm offended I have to come here and get your permission where to send my son to school," and he was right."
Of course you don't need the government's permission to send your child to another school, if you can afford it, but every parent in Texas deserves to have the "choice" to send their child to an excellent public school.
Evan Smith also questioned his ability to lead the Senate because of his relationship to members. He cited a tiff with Finance Chairman Tommy Williams over his "No" vote on the budget and various personal issues that will likely surface further down the long campaign trail. Patrick in classic talk radio fashion never flinched,
"We're going to pass border security, we're going to pass school choice and we're going to pass property tax relief," he said. "I have an 8 year impeccable track record in the Senate, top conservative...People know where I stand. People are not interested in those kinds of attacks....I live a real life and I wrote about it in my book..."