It was awkward enough when George W. Bush said he had a mandate in 2004 with 51 percent of the vote. But it is even more awkward that Dan Patrick, for whom 3.4 percent of registered Texas voters actually voted, claimed a mandate on Tuesday night.
“It's a new day in Texas,” Patrick told supporters in Houston. “The people have given us a mandate.” He added that the win was not his, but God's: “In the end the victory was his and tonight I give all the glory to God for this victory.”
Sure, Dan Patrick beat David Dewhurst soundly in Tuesday's Republican primary race for lieutenant governor with 65 percent of the vote. But given the low turnout of Tuesday's primary, that still only translates into to 488,150 votes. And there are 13.6 million registered voters in Texas.
There's more after the jump. If anything, Patrick's victory only means that he has a mandate among the minority of far-right Republican primary voters. Patrick has credited his win to Republican voters' desire for a “bold conservative message,” which is indeed what they got. But the fewer than 500,000 people who asked for that message do not represent the state.
Prominent Republicans and Independents had already begun coming out in support of Van de Putte even before the primary was over. “I am not going to compare and contrast candidates but she brings qualities that are appealing to all sides and genders and races,” Marcie Zlotnik, who started two retail electricity providers and describes herself as an independent who leans Republican, told the Washington Post. “She has Republican support and nobody is afraid to say it either.”
Now that it's clear who the alternative is, it's only a matter of time before more Van de Putte supporters make themselves known.
“Throughout this campaign, and as the results came in tonight, I have been receiving calls from business leaders concerned about the future of our state,” Leticia Van de Putte said in a statement. “Like Texas business owners, and Texans across this entire state, I know that it's time that politicians like Dan Patrick put their toxic rhetoric to rest.”
Photo courtesy of Patrick Michels/Texas Observer.