State Sen. Dan Patrick scored a decisive victory Tuesday night in the brutal multimillion-dollar Republican battle for one of the most powerful posts in Texas government, ousting longtime Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
After weeks of personal attacks and accusations — even the unveiling of one candidate’s private medical history to reveal a brief stay in a psychiatric hospital three decades ago — Patrick drew 65 percent of the vote to Dewhurst’s 35 percent, according to complete but unofficial results posted on the Texas secretary of state’s website.
“I give all the glory to God for this victory,” Patrick said.
Earlier Tuesday, Patrick said the nasty campaign is now behind him.
“Ronald Reagan said, ‘I don’t have enemies, I have opponents,’ ” Patrick said. “And you’ve heard me say so many times, I’m a Christian first. I’m trying to walk that talk.
“So it’s all forgiven in my view. It’s in the rearview mirror. Let’s move on,” he said. “And let’s all work together to defeat the Democrats. They’re our real opponents.”
Democrats said Patrick is not the right choice for Texans.
“Someone with a record of vile, toxic rhetoric is simply unfit to lead our great state,” said Emmanuel Garcia, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party.
Several other statewide races were wrapping up late Tuesday as well.
For Republicans, Ken Paxton won the attorney general’s race, as did Sid Miller in the agriculture commissioner race and Ryan Sitton in the Railroad Commission race.
For Democrats, David M. Alameel easily claimed victory in the U.S. Senate race, as did Jim Hogan in the agriculture commissioner race.
“Texas voters have continued to demonstrate their steadfast commitment to the conservative values and initiatives that have and will continue to keep our state on the pathway toward greater opportunity,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nominee. “Now more than ever, we must work together to make tomorrow’s Texas even better than today’s.”
Second in command
The race to become Texas’ lieutenant governor, the No. 2 in state government, has been one of the nastiest political battles in the country.
It pitted Dewhurst, an 11-year establishment Republican incumbent, against Patrick, a radio talk show host with Tea Party support who describes himself as an “authentic” conservative candidate.
For many, the high-profile race boiled down to establishment Republicans versus grassroots Tea Party members — as did the 2012 race for the U.S. Senate between political newcomer Ted Cruz and Dewhurst. Cruz won that primary runoff and went on to win the general election.
As the election came to an end Tuesday night, Dewhurst was gracious in defeat and praised supporters gathered in Houston for sticking with him.
And he said it’s time to look to the future.
“It’s an honor to serve with you and ladies and gentlemen, if you ever need me, I’ve got your back,” he said, adding that he’s ready to support the full Republican ticket in November. “Tomorrow we rise to a new challenge together.”
The costly, heated battle became more inflamed in the weeks before the election when documents that showed Patrick had been hospitalized for depression in the 1980s were given to the media.
Patrick said he admitted himself but added that his emotional state is much better and that he hasn’t needed treatment or medication in about 30 years. And he said that though the information was released by a former opponent, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, he believed that Dewhurst — a millionaire businessman who found himself running an underdog campaign — stooped “to a new low.”
Dewhurst’s campaign released a statement saying, “My heart goes out to Dan and his family for what they’ve endured while coping with his condition.” Patterson said he released the information because he believed that all Texans needed to know about it. Patrick said Patterson inadvertently sent out an email stating that it was Dewhurst’s idea.
Days before the election, Patrick offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who could produce an audio copy of a telephone push poll being conducted against him. “David Dewhurst won’t be able to hide from this dirty trick,” Patrick said. “He has run a disgustingly negative, mean-spirited campaign.”
In March, Patrick claimed 41 percent of the vote to the 28 percent claimed by Dewhurst. Trailing them were Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Patterson, who shared 30 percent of the vote.
Patrick will face state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, in November’s general election.
A look at other statewide races on the ballot, according to complete but unofficial election returns:
• Among Democrats, David M. Alameel drew 73 percent to Kesha Rogers’ 28 percent in the battle for U.S. Senate. He faces Texas’ senior senator, Republican John Cornyn, in November.
And for agriculture commissioner, Hogan drew 54 percent to Richard “Kinky” Friedman’s 46 percent.
• Among Republicans, in the attorney general race, Paxton earned 64 percent to Branch’s 36 percent. He faces Democrat Sam Houston in November.
“If this trend continues, I will be honored to serve as the Republican nominee for Texas attorney general and build on General Greg Abbott’s legacy of accomplishment,” Paxton said Tuesday night.
• In the agriculture commissioner race, Miller drew 53 percent to Tommy Merritt’s 47 percent. He faces Hogan in November.
And Sitton drew 57 percent to Wayne Christian’s 43 percent in the battle for Texas railroad commissioner. He faces Democrat Steve Brown in November.
• There was national interest in the battle for Texas’ 4th Congressional District, in which longtime incumbent Ralph M. Hall was ousted in his re-election bid with 47 percent of the vote to challenger John Ratcliffe’s 53 percent.
Hall, 91, the oldest member of the House, is the first House member to lose this year.