Even before Dan Patrick won his Senate seat, speculation around town was rampant that he would run for governor in 2010. I think it’s wrong. He doesn’t have the name identification or the money to make that race, and he would be up against a formidable array of political talent. But I think he will be a candidate for statewide office in ’10 — not for governor, but for lieutenant governor. And I think he has positioned himself very well for that race.
What Patrick has going for him is his opposition to the 2/3 rule. He has made an obscure parliamentary device into an issue that resonates with Republican voters. He will go to the Republican convention and make a speech that says something like this: Why can’t Republicans do anything about illegal immigration? Because the 2/3 allows the Democrats to block the will of the majority. Why can’t Republicans put a stop to voter fraud? Because the 2/3 rule allows the Democrats to block the will of the majority? We have 20 senators and they have 11, but we can’t govern the way you elected us to govern.
Patrick has a political base and name identification in metropolitan Houston, the Republican primary’s biggest source of votes. He has a Dallas radio station that hasn’t done much for him yet, but has the potential to do so. He doesn’t need a lot of money to make the race. He will have to contend with Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has indicated his desire to run, but Abbott hasn’t been very visible this session. He was AWOL on the Texas Youth Commission scandal, he was a cheerleader in the Jessica’s Law debate when he should have been discussing the very serious legal issues that threatened to derail the legislation, and he helped block immigration legislation in the House (which I happen to think was a good thing, because I agree with the president’s position on immigration, but I’m in a minority of Republican primary voters). Patrick understands the media and how to use it much better than Abbott (or almost anyone). Most of his legislative program has been the collection of soundbytes for a statewide race. I think he would be a formidable candidate in a Republican primary. And don’t you know that the prospect of having Dan Patrick as their lieutenant governor will drive the GOP senators berserk!