Dewhurst, Patrick avoid acrimony in final debate before runoff

05/20/2014 11:41 PM

05/21/2014 9:08 AM

Making their closing arguments to voters Tuesday night, a week before the runoff election, incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and his challenger, state Sen. Dan Patrick, avoided much of the acrimony that has characterized the Republican runoff in the lieutenant governor’s race.

The hour-long event, hosted by the Central Texas Tea Party and moderated by conservative radio host Lynn Wooley, was the first time the two men have appeared together publicly since the release to media outlets last week of documents containing details about Patrick’s mental health history. But neither candidate brought up the development directly — and the moderator didn’t ask about it.

Instead, Dewhurst concentrated on his record in office, also avoiding the attacks he’s made on Patrick’s character in previous matchups. Patrick stuck to making the case that he was the only legitimate choice for conservative voters.

“If elected, I would be the first grassroots candidate to achieve statewide office,” said Patrick, who referred to himself as a “grassroots conservative before it was known as the Tea Party.”

The candidates found agreement on a number of topics. Both said they did not believe in global warming. Dewhurst said federal efforts to regulate emissions were “absolutely crazy.” Patrick said he would leave the climate “in the hands of God.”

They stopped short of endorsing legislation in Utah that would allow executions by firing squads.

“We would not want to do something that our courts would call cruel and unusual,” Patrick said.

The closest the two men came to sparring was during discussion of whether it was appropriate for the lieutenant governor to appoint Democrats to lead Senate committees.

Patrick said allowing Democratic leadership showed Dewhurst did not prioritize conservative legislation. As lieutenant governor, he said he would not name Democrats to lead half the Senate’s committees.

Dewhurst said allowing Democrats to lead some committees was necessary to do business in the Senate.

“My record is one of accomplishment; my opponent’s is not,” he said, adding, “The best indication of what you are going to do is what you’ve already done.”

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