North Texas Daily

Lieutenant governor race underway

Lieutenant governor race underway

Lieutenant governor race underway
October 31
09:13 2013

Andrew Freeman / Staff Writer

The Texas lieutenant governor race coincides with the Texas governor race next year on Nov. 4. As of now, there are four candidates running, all Republicans.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst challenged by Texas State Senator Dan Patrick, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, but with all four sharing similar views, they’ll have to be creative to distinguish themselves, associate political science professor Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha said.

“The candidates’ views aren’t going to vary much,” Eshbaugh-Soha said. “But in terms of what you’re going to get, you may get a different personality. But what people underestimate is the need for legislative experience.”

The lieutenant governor is the chief executive officer of the legislative branch, and Eshbaugh-Soha said in most cases it is more important than the actual governor when it comes to legislation.

He also said this is important for students because of their influence when it comes to higher education.

“As the most important legislative officer who’s not actually in the legislation, they’re powerful,” Eshbaugh-Soha said. “They can make decisions on higher education, and have a lot of influence. Even [State Senator Wendy] Davis, if she wins [the election for Texas Governor], doesn’t have the ‘in’ to legislation that the lieutenant governor does, meaning the funding for higher education, buildings, grants and scholarships.”

For some students, these are the things that matter.

“I want to see a focus on education from the lieutenant governor,” dance junior Diana Munoz said. “Anything to make it more affordable to be in college.”

With Dewhurst as the incumbent, and having name recognition, he has a huge advantage over the rest of the candidates, Eshbaugh-Soha said.

“What the candidates will want is to force a run-off with Dewhurst,” Eshbaugh-Soha said. “Basically do what Cruz did during the senate race and challenge his conservative credentials.”

Dewhurst has served as lieutenant governor since 2003. He has also served in the Texas legislature through four regular sessions and seven special sessions.

Before that, he was elected as Texas Land Commissioner in 1998.

He is also a military veteran, serving in the U.S. Air Force before moving to the CIA and then the State Department.

Patrick has been in the Texas senate since 2007, and is currently the Chairman of the Education Committee, though he has served on a total of five committees, including finance, sunset and criminal justice.

Law enforcement groups have recognized him as Legislator of the Year, and he has received the National Federation of Independent Business’ top award twice.

Staples was recently re-elected to his second four-year term as Commissioner of Agriculture in 2010.

His public service career began in 1989 when he was elected to the city council in Palestine, Texas.

In 1995 he was elected into the Texas House of Representatives and moved onto the Texas Senate in 2000, where he served two terms before first becoming Commissioner of Agriculture in 2006.

Patterson has been Land Commissioner since 2002 and is currently serving his third term.

He served on the Texas Senate from 1993 to 1999. In 2007, Patterson was named “Texan of the Year” for his work in promoting Texas history education and strengthening Texas Independence Day as a day of celebration for all Texans.

In 2011, the Sons of the Republic of Texas named Patterson a “Knight of San Jacinto” in his preservation of Texas history.

Before his public service, however, he was a Vietnam veteran, and afterward served as a Naval Flight Officer and in Marine fighter squadrons until his retirement as lieutenant colonel in 1993.

Despite its importance, the lieutenant governor race is typically a low-profile race, overshadowed by the governor elections, though Dewhurst’s name may bring it a little attention, Eshbaugh-Soha said.

“To me, politics is a game,” construction engineering technology sophomore Frederick Efediyi said. “That’s why you don’t get to know about smaller elections – they’re not ‘important.’”

However, Efediyi said he knows about this race because he had the opportunity to meet David Dewhurst for one of his classes and discussed oil fracking with him.

“He is kind of cool, and knew a lot about what he was talking about,” Efediyi said. “It would be cool to see him as lieutenant governor again.”

The race is still a year out, and public campaigning hasn’t yet begun.

“It’s still pretty early, and Texans aren’t too interested in politics,” Eshbaugh-Soha said. “They won’t start thinking about it until after the New Year, but right now I don’t think there is anything of significance. Unless someone steps up and shakes up the race, the status quo will prevail, meaning the incumbent will win.”

Feature photo: With Sam Houston as a backdrop, U.S. Senate candidate David Dewhurst speaks to delegates on the final day of the state Republican convention at the FWCC on Saturday, June 9, 2012, in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo courtesy of Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT

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