Just when Texas politics couldn’t get any more haywire, along came the cartoon beaver.The owners of Lake Jackson-based Buc-ee’s convenience stores and their beaver mascot have endorsed Houston talk-radio foghorn Dan Patrick for lieutenant governor, triggering disappointment among Republican rivals and calls for a Democratic or Hispanic boycott.Patrick is a former Houston TV sportscaster who bought a Christian radio station and then politicked and preached his way into the Texas Senate, mostly by complaining about illegal immigration.For North Texans, imagine a zealous Dale Hansen taking up televangelism with an eye on the Capitol.Patrick’s less humble comments include a 2006 remark about foreigners “bringing Third World diseases” and claims that Texas loses money on illegal immigrants’ education and healthcare.(The last time the state comptroller ran the numbers, the state was coming out $17.7 billion ahead in economic benefits and taxes paid by illegal immigrants and their employers. But, hey, no radio host ever let facts get in the way.)So when Patrick’s campaign posted a Facebook photo with Buc-ee and announced endorsements from owners Arch “Beaver” Aplin and Don Wasek, it riled up more than just opponent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s voters.“Won’t gas up there anymore since they support a fearmongering immigrant-basher,” U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, wrote on his campaign Twitter account: “Wonder how Buc-ee’s patrons feel about their endorsement.”Followers chimed in with “#BoycottBucees.”Castro said through a spokesman Tuesday that he is disappointed that Buc-ee’s would lend corporate support to a candidate “who has built his career around dividing Texans and bashing immigrants.”The winner of the May 27 Dewhurst-Patrick runoff will face San Antonio Democrat Leticia Van de Putte in November.Castro’s brother, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, will debate Patrick on immigration reform April 15 in a Texas Tribune-Univisión event.The Buc-ee’s company lawyer, Jeff Nadalo, returned a call Tuesday to explain that Aplin and Wasek were endorsing Patrick personally, not speaking for the supersized convenience stores honored for “America’s Best Restrooms.”“We believe Beaver Nuggets [the company’s trademark snack] and beef jerky taste good regardless of political affiliation,” Nadalo said, adding that the company’s employees reflect all viewpoints and backgrounds.“Buc-ee’s is not supporting any candidate,” he said.Aplin and Wasek, reliable Republican donors, gave a combined $10,000 to third-place finisher Todd Staples.Aplin also donated $1,000 to the fourth-place finisher, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.Castro is “full of horse manure” for blaming any business for an owner’s political campaign contributions, Patterson said by phone from Austin, calling a boycott “silly and stupid.”But he also said Patrick is vulnerable and can lose — or at least, lose a debate on immigration.“Frankly,” Patterson said, his voice rising, “I’d love to debate him on immigration! Because he’s a lying sack of …” The rest is best left at Buc-ee’s.
Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy Get alerts at RebelMouse.com/budkennedy