FORT WORTH — For now, the two state senators hoping to claim the post of lieutenant governor in November appear to be on level financial ground.Since the heated May primary runoff, when Republican Dan Patrick of Houston easily bested Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the post, both Patrick and Democrat Leticia Van de Putte have raised around $1 million for their campaigns.But Patrick, a radio talk show host, has raised $7.8 million overall since throwing his hat in, compared with pharmacist Van de Putte’s nearly $2.3 million.“We have a great fund raising team,” Patrick said. “Together we will secure the necessary dollars to carry our message to the voters of our great state and, along with the entire Republican ticket, be victorious in November.”Van de Putte points out that her campaign raised slightly more than Patrick’s since the May runoff — around $1.1 million compared with almost $1 million that her opponent received.“Dan Patrick’s toxic rhetoric and my-way-or-the-highway attitude are already turning off Texas voters,” she wrote in a letter to supporters Wednesday. “It’s no surprise that our grassroots campaign and our message of putting Texas first is resonating with Texas families.”Local appearanceSince he won the GOP primary runoff, Patrick hasn’t been in the media spotlight much, other than speaking at the Republican State Convention in Fort Worth early last month.His absence became so prominent that the Texas Democratic Party sent out emails this month with Patrick’s face on a missing sign. It read: “Have you seen this man? No public appearances since June 7, 2014. If you have any information regarding Dan, please contact the Texas Democratic Party.”On Wednesday, he returned to the Fort Worth Convention Center to talk to the 86th annual FFA Texas state convention.He cheered on the thousands of youths gathered there, talking about the importance of FFA and preparing for their future, as well as his work in the Senate to improve the path for Texas students.“You all give me hope,” he said. “You are on the right path for our country and your own personal lives and careers.”He said that as long as he is in the Texas Senate, he will continue to work in behalf of Texas students.“As lieutenant governor, I will continue to champion the dreams of our students by maintaining high standards, providing graduation plan flexibility to our students and choice options for their parents,” he said. “No child should be forced down a graduation path that doesn’t inspire them and no parent should be confined to a failing school because of their ZIP code.”Texas Democratic officials sent out a statement asking where Patrick has been.“Dan Patrick hasn’t been seen in over a month, but that hasn’t stopped him from spraying his hateful rhetoric in the press and online,” said Manny Garcia, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party. “Dan Patrick has been fearmongering and spreading misinformation instead of talking to Texas voters.“Dan, now that you are done hiding, it’s time to answer for your harmful lies because Texans deserve answers.”Money mattersBoth Patrick and Van de Putte received sizable campaign donations this year, according to campaign finance reports filed this week with the Texas Ethics Commission.Patrick’s included $100,000 each from Boone Pickens of Dallas’ BP Capital LLC; Charles Wilder of Dallas’ BRC Property Holdings; and James Pitcock of Williams Brothers Construction in Houston.Van de Putte had two six-figure donations — from Amber Mostyn, a Houston attorney who was born and raised in Fort Worth, and Lillie Robertson, a Houston investor.They both also received a share of donations from local residents.Van de Putte drew more than 200 donations from Tarrant County, including $1,000 from former Tarrant County Democratic Chairman Art Brender; $500 from state Rep. Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth; $250 from Fort Worth Councilman Sal Espino; $1,000 from the Tarrant County Democratic Woman’s Club; and $1,000 from Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats.Patrick didn’t receive as many Tarrant County donations, but his were markedly larger.They included $5,000 from the Cash America International Inc. PAC of Fort Worth; $10,000 from the Good Government Fund, which is run by the Bass family; $10,000 from QPAC, a committee of Fort Worth investment banker Geoffrey Raynor; and $12,500 from Lee Hughes, a Fort Worth builder.
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley