Opinion: David Dewhurst hanging by a thread

Opinion: David Dewhurst hanging by a thread

Opinion: David Dewhurst hanging by a thread
April 01
01:48 2014

Lt. governor David Dewhurst simply can’t get the ultra conservative monkey off his back.

Just two years ago, Tea Party darling Sen. Ted Cruz surprisingly defeated Dewhurst in the Texas Republican primary for the senatorial nomination.

Dewhurst now appears to be well on his way out of Texas public office after state senator Dan Patrick handedly won 41.7 percent of the Texas GOP vote, and the run-off poll numbers indicate that GOP voters prefer Patrick.

So what is Dewhurst’s deal?

After former senator Kay Baily Hutchison announced that she would not be running for re-election in 2012, it seemed that the Republican establishment in Texas would favor the natural progression of Dewhurst to the U.S. Senate.

And thus we have arrived at Dewhurst’s problem: Dewhurst is an establishment favorite and no matter how radically conservative his accomplishments are, nothing will change that.

Dewhurst has served as Texas lieutenant governor for the past 12 years.

One would think that with some of the landmark conservative legislation passed during Dewhurst’s tenure, like voter ID laws and strict pro-life regulations, Tea Party enthusiasts would flock to Dewhurst.

Instead, Patrick was able to turn voters off Dewhurst by touting inaccurate claims of the establishment’s failure to address what Patrick sees as the biggest “threat” to Texas: illegal immigration.

Citing the Texas Department of Public Safety’s crime report for 2013, Patrick claimed in January at a business group forum in Austin that 141,000 “illegals” had been jailed from 2008-2012, the San Antonio Express News reported.

What Patrick conveniently left out is that that report did not indicate convictions, whether or not the arrested person was undocumented, and what class of crime an arrested “alien” was charged with.

At the end of the day, however, the fact that it was all simply inflated misinformation didn’t matter. It also didn’t matter that since 2007, Texas beefed up border security by $800 million, according to the Houston Chronicle – a victory Dewhurst has claimed, but none noticed.

At the end of summer 2013, Dewhurst led the charge in the passage of one of the strictest pro-life legislative measures in the country.

State senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster was not enough as Dewhurst’s conservative wing in the senate sent the bill to governor Rick Perry’s desk.

Since then, the New York Times reports, of the 44 women’s health facilities in the state, 20 have closed and 18 more are expected to close by September.

Still reeling from the loss to Cruz in 2012 and expecting the imminent loss to Patrick, Dewhurst truly has little to hope for.

Neil Willis, political writer for the Washington Post, writes that since the rise of the Tea Party five years ago, Dewhurst is the politician who best understands the group’s ire.

“Barring a miracle that most Texas political observers don’t expect to see, Dewhurst will have lost the job to which he aspired in Washington, and the job he held so long in Texas. The tea party will have taken him out, twice,” Wilson writes.

What the ultra-conservative base in Texas has failed to realize is that it is not as anti-establishment or as radical as its members believe themselves to be.

Patrick is a Republican, and the Republican Party of Texas is the establishment.

Under the establishment’s rule, Texas fell to 46th in education spending, according to the National Education Association.

Since 2009, there has been a 100 percent increase in “unplanned, toxic air releases associated with oil and gas production,” according to an independent study by the Center for Public Integrity and the Weather Channel.

Neither Patrick nor Dewhurst are ideal candidates because they stand in support of the status quo establishment that threatens Texas’ future with its laissez-faire attitude toward business and seeing education as a burden rather than an investment.

It’s time for Texan voters to look across the aisle, not to vote for the guys and gals in blue, but because maybe they have some good ideas.

After all, a Texas Democrat is still a Texan.

Obed Manuel is a journalism senior. He can be reached at obedmanuel@yahoo.com.

Feature photo: Lt. Governor David Dewhurst speaks to the crowd during the state Republican convention at the Fort Worth Convention Center on June 8, 2012. Photo courtesy of Ron T. Ennis, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, MCT

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