Experience is the difference for Dewhurst

02/08/2014 12:00 AM

02/07/2014 7:48 PM

It’s a bareknuckle fight among four experienced Texas political leaders seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in the March 4 primary. They all want to be the one to take on Democratic nominee Leticia Van de Putte in November.

If the GOP fight has a good guy, it’s probably three-term land commissioner and former senator Jerry Patterson, 67. Patterson has stayed mainly above the fray, pushing his own policies, except in a recent Waco Tribune-Herald interview where he called one of his opponents a “pathological” liar.

That particular opponent is the bad guy in the race, if there is one. He’s Dan Patrick, 63, a radio talk-show host and, since 2007, a senator from Houston.

Patrick must be used to the abuse. Fellow Sen. John Carona of Dallas once called him a “snake-oil salesman, a narcissist that would say anything to draw attention to himself.”

Texas Monthly put him in the category of “bullies and ideologues.”

For his part, Patrick accuses three-term Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, 68, of duplicity. He says Dewhurst sabotaged some attempts to pass abortion restrictions in the legislative session.

Dewhurst fires back that Patrick knows that’s not true, that decisions were made in a Republican caucus meeting that included Patrick.

Finally, there’s Todd Staples, 50, with two House terms (from Palestine) and two Senate terms under his belt and agriculture commissioner since 2007.

Staples tries to join the fight, saying Dewhurst is the first lieutenant governor with a state-paid security detail (one response might be: “So?”).

Behind the fighting, the four have only nuanced differences on policy. They’re all strong conservatives who favor sealing the border with Mexico, ending abortion, expanding school choice, restraining spending, limiting regulations and maintaining or expanding gun freedom.

Still, head and shoulders above the rest is Dewhurst. As lieutenant governor, the president of the Senate, he has been an effective leader for six legislative sessions and 12 special sessions.

Experience counts, especially when it comes to leading 31 powerful and independent-minded senators to achieve legislative goals.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends David Dewhurst in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor.

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