The Tea Party Takes Charge
Wed May 28, 2014 10:12 am

The big winners from the primary runoff were Dan Patrick and the tea party. The big loser was the state of Texas, which sailed into unknown territory. The tea party, collectively, is in total control of the state, and the consequences are going to be staggering. All state services are in peril, in particular, the public schools. It’s the revenge of the know-nothings.

What will Dan Patrick be like as lieutenant governor? We know that he is aggressively anti-immigrant, so we may have to deal with Arizona-style immigration legislation, sanctuary cities laws, disinvestment in higher education, and privatization of public education. The one thing we know about the tea party with certainty is that they are angry--they are the definition of sore winners. The new lieutenant governor is not going to inherit a bed of roses. He has no relationship with the Speaker of the House. I doubt that he will have a good relationship with Greg Abbott. My guess is that Patrick is already thinking about the next election, and that he plans to challenge Abbott for governor in 2018. His ego won’t let him stop at lite guv.

One thing I believe with absolute certainty: Dan Patrick as lieutenant governor will hasten the day Texas turns purple. His personal history is one of recklessness and carelessness. There are going to be train wrecks along the way. I have serious doubts about whether the tea party can govern or whether Patrick can get along with his peers without having a meltdown along the way. His followers have no understanding of, or inclination for, negotiation and compromise, and they didn’t run the table at the ballot box last night; Straus’s team outperformed Michael Quinn Sullivan’s. The fundamentals of politics don’t change. You have to understand that you can’t always get what you want.
 
The question looming over the 2015 session is, frankly, whether state services can survive the session. The state has a lot of money, but will the tea party allow lawmakers to spend it? Or will the money just linger unspent in the Rainy Day fund? There are going to be some potholes in the road ahead--assuming that the tea party lets us build any roads.

( AP Image / Patric Schneider )

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