Yesterday morning Dan Patrick appeared at Ted Cruz’s campaign headquarters in Houston, where he officially endorsed the senator’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, and announced that he will serve as the chairman of Cruz’s campaign in Texas. Patrick Svitek, of the Texas Tribune, reported from the scene:
“Our party has been asleep for more than eight years come election time against the Democrats,” the lieutenant governor said. Cruz, not known for understatement, returned the praise, saying Patrick would “crawl through broken glass with a knife between his teeth” to fight for conservative values.
Three things jump out to me here.
1) It is totally unclear what either of them, as quoted by Svitek, is talking about. Despite what Patrick said, the Republican Party of Texas has been full of sturm und drang about Texas Democrats and Battleground Texas lately, despite there being no apparent reason for alarm—and nationally, the GOP won landslide victories in 2010 and 2014. And despite what Cruz said, Patrick is currently in the midst of asking Texans to vote for Proposition 1 on November 3rd—the “property tax relief” measure that is, effectively, an Obamacare-style subsidy from the state government to local school districts, and does not meet my definition of conservative.
2) As Texans know, Cruz and Patrick have a frosty history, dating back to Cruz’s 2012 race for the U.S. Senate nomination. Patrick, then a state senator, was backing David Dewhurst, then the lieutenant governor. The iciness has persisted until just now despite Patrick’s overtures; yesterday’s announcement is a sign that Cruz has revised his calculations in light of the potential benefits of an alliance with Patrick.
3) Though Patrick continues to insist that he has no plans to run for governor in 2018, the fact that he is now chairing Cruz’s Texas campaign means that Cruz, who has historically been close to his old boss Greg Abbott, may have a tough choice to make (or deftly avoid making) in the event that those plans are revised.
Other than that, an unremarkable morning of political theater.