An already rancorous Republican primary runoff for lieutenant governor escalated again Friday following leaked court documents showing that front-runner Dan Patrick was hospitalized for depression in the 1980s.
Patrick in a statement acknowledged voluntarily admitting himself but said he hasn’t needed additional treatment or medication in three decades. The state senator from Houston slammed his opponent, incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, for stooping “to a new low” just before early voting starts Monday.
“Now comes David Dewhurst, caked in mud, and oozing sleaze, with his latest personal attack,” Patrick spokesman Allen Blakemore said in a statement.
The court documents were leaked by Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who finished last in a four-way March primary race for lieutenant governor and has since endorsed Dewhurst in the runoff. Patterson said he believes the hospitalization is information that voters should know.
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With Republican Gov. Rick Perry preparing to leave office after a record 14 years, Texas is on the verge of its biggest political shake-up in two decades, with every statewide office up for grabs.
No race has been more contentious than lieutenant governor, which is one of the most powerful positions in the state.
Dewhurst has held the job since 2002 but finished a distant second in the primary to Patrick, who founded the tea party caucus in the Senate. The campaigns have traded barbs over financial debts and accusations of lies, and faced off in a hostile debate last week that largely devolved into both candidates talking over each other.
Patrick’s hospital stint was revealed in a court transcript from a lawsuit that he brought against a Houston newspaper. Blakemore said Patrick’s medical past was no secret and that he had had discussed it on his radio show for years.
The Dewhurst campaign released a statement saying: “My heart goes out to Dan and his family for what they’ve endured while coping with his condition.”
The runoff is May 27. The winner will face Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte in November.