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Leticia Van de Putte As LG Better for GOP State Senators Than Dan Patrick - And They Know It

by: Genevieve Cato

Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 01:00 PM CDT

It might be easy to assume that a heavily Republican Texas State Senate would favor the GOP candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 2014's upcoming general election. Republicans held a majority in the last legislative session and will continue to hold that majority in 2015. The Lieutenant Governor also presides over the State Senate, and it would seem that the majority would want a leader from their own party.

Not so, reported the San Antonio Express News. Though many senators may back Dan Patrick publicly - especially when they were fighting for their seats against Tea Party challengers - what they say on the campaign trail may not reflect what they think is best for the Texas Senate. And what is best for the Texas Senate is most decidedly not an extremist like Dan Patrick.

More on Dan Patrick's toxic attitude and why Republican senators may prefer Leticia Van de Putte below the jump.  

The Lieutenant Governor wields a great deal of power in the Texas State Senate. The LG makes committee assignments, including deciding whether members remain or become chairs of their committees, and also controls the traffic of bills coming onto the Senate floor. Essentially, the LG controls the legislative agenda of the Senate.

Traditionally in both the House and the Senate, the committee chairmanships are divided in a way that closely reflects the partisan makeup of the body. Being a committee chairperson gives a senator a great deal of influence in that committee and on the legislative agenda of the Senate: they choose which bills get heard, which bills get a vote, and effectively determine which bills will make it onto the Senate floor. As Lieutenant Governor, David Dewhurst appointed Democrats to chairmanships - including Leticia Van de Putte. This is a move Patrick has criticized in his campaign against Dewhurst, saying that under his watch, he may not appoint a single Democrat to a chairmanship.

It is this caustic partisanship that Republican senators should fear. In his time in the Senate, Patrick has long lived to the right of the majority even in his own party. The Texas Senate prides itself on its ability to work across party lines and to approve bills that have a coalition of Democrats and Republicans behind them - with the highly visible mess over House Bill 2 this summer a clear exception to the rule. If Dan Patrick is elected Lieutenant Governor, there is no chance that the Senate could retain its fiercely-guarded reputation as the staid, responsible counterpart to the unruly House.

Republican primary voters most likely see no issue with Patrick's conservative agenda. When he criticizes Dewhurst for appointing too many Democrats to positions of power, they see someone who will stand up for their values in the Senate. However, moderates across the state and the state senators themselves must know what Patrick as Lieutenant Governor would bring: hostile partisanship and a complete dismissal of the bipartisan, moderate legislation the Senate is known for considering. Van de Putte isn't only better for Democrats. She's better for the Republicans, too - and they know it.  

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