I thought that the lieutenant governor’s debate between Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick tonight was pretty amazing. Van de Putte was a traditional candidate, who advocated for the longstanding major issues that define Texas politics: schools, health care, transportation. Patrick was totally different. He is the most formidable radical politician the state has produced in my career of covering the Legislature.

He wants to raise the sales tax to levels no other state would consider. He advocated for massive tax cuts. He was steadfast and unyielding. He raised the spectre of unknown diseases unleashed from Mexico, threatening the health of Texans who live many miles from the border. Van de Putte stood her ground. She hit Patrick hard on his total lack of concern for the loss of thousands of teachers in the 2011 legislative session.

The most interesting thing about the debate was Patrick’s persona. He felt no need to soften his message or appeal to more mainstream voters. This is exactly who he is, and who he wants to be: a true conservative radical.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool)