I’m speaking of Steve Ogden, who ripped into Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst and his own Senate colleagues this week in a speech in College Station. What he said was the truth–that Dewhurst was ineffective and that all his colleagues cared about was politics.
During the discussions over a school finance bill late in the session, I visited with a group of senators at the doorway near the press table. “If there were a vote [of confidence] on Dewhurst, it would be 31 to 0 against him,” one Senate veteran told me. Heads nodded all around. His about-face on the Rainy Day fund sunk his relationship with the Senate, what was left of it.
What about the Senate race? Dewhurst has been following a rose garden strategy, relaxing in Aspen–not that I wouldn’t do the same if I could. He makes some campaign appearances in Texas but doesn’t attend forums, and generally is the pluperfect absentee candidate. Clearly, Dewhurst’s plan for the Senate race is to ignore the base and simply hitch a ride on Rick Perry’s record; whatever successes Perry had, Dewhurst will claim his share of. Dewhurst is going to try to buy the race, overwhelming Ted Cruz with money and name I.D. Dewhurst’s achilles heel is that he has no constituency and no resume of achievement. The thing he has to worry about is that word-of-mouth is still a powerful force in Republican politics, and the base of the party is not, and never has been, enamored with him.
I don’t understand why Dewhurst wants to be in the Senate. He’s too old to build a meaningful career. He has an executive personality, not a legislative personality. The only way he would slap a colleague on the back would be to try to kill a fly. And–the fatal flaw in a legislative body–he doesn’t have a good reputation for keeping his word. Every vote is going to be a thousand deaths for Dewhurst. And there is a possibility that the Democrats might keep the majority. Being a freshman in the minority is no piece of cake. I wouldn’t be surprised, if Perry wins the presidency, to see Dewhurst choose being governor over being senator.