Dan patrick

On Sept. 29, Texas Senators Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick battled each other during the first and only debate of the race for Lieutenant Governor of Texas. Patrick’s overtly aggressive opening set the tone for the debate.

“You know in the race for Lieutenant Governor, there’s never been such a clear difference between two candidates,” opened Patrick, emphasizing the political and gender difference between Van de Putte and he. “I know her well, I like her. But, she’s out of step with Texans on almost every issue,” he said.

Patrick would build upon this “out of step” description of Van de Putte throughout the hour, portraying her as someone unable to keep up with a fast changing political culture. Van de Putte, stuck to her strong stance on education, spending most of the hour trying to pin Patrick for his public education cuts. The re-occurring issue throughout the debate — other than strong offensive tactics — was the Texas tax structure.

During the Texas Tribune festival last weekend, Patrick explained that he would like to reduce Texas’ reliance on property taxes to fund public education by switching the burden to the sales tax. Van de Putte scrutinized the plan, stating that it would only be viable if Patrick raised the sales tax. Patrick retorted that if it came to that, he would only approve increasing the sales tax “by a penny or two.”

Van de Putte quickly responded: “There’s two people standing on this stage, and I’m the only one that doesn’t want to raise your sales taxes.”

Unfazed, Patrick responded that Van de Putte was being disingenuous about her own tax strategy, claiming, “My opponent is the one that wants to raise every tax she can find.”

The candidates’ responses to moderator Ross Ramsey’s questions about their stances on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and education spending were less fluid from countless practice rounds taken during their campaign trails.

When asked about the ACA, Van de Putte stated that she supported the expansion of Medicaid to insure poor adults not able to find coverage under the current system. She jabbed at Patrick by highlighting that other Republican majority states had taken that path.

Van de Putte continued her criticism of Patrick — reminding viewers that Patrick’s vote was one of many that helped pass billion dollar cuts to public school financing during the economic recession in 2011. However, the accusation did little to slow Patrick’s pace.

“We had a choice,” said Patrick in reference to the education cuts. “Conservative Republicans decided not to raise your taxes and instead cut several billion dollars from education funding.” Van de Putte quipped that this led to the elimination of over ten thousand teaching positions, a notion that Patrick dismissed as minor in consideration of the effect raising taxes would have had on the Texas economy.

Although the conversation was heated from the beginning, the mention of abortion set the two candidates — and their supporters — ablaze.

Taking her usual position, Van de Putte stated that abortion should be a decision left to women; however, she conceded that after five months abortions should not be granted unless the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Patrick, known for his ultra-conservative stance on abortion, viciously attacked Van de Putte for supporting the provision.

“I understand that some people have different opinions on rape and incest,” said Patrick. “But, that child is still born in the image of God and is a human being.” Not content to stop there, he scrutinized his opponent further, calling her out for “cheering on the anarchists that overtook” the state Capitol during Wendy Davis’ filibuster.

The last issue presented to the candidates was whether or not the Texas DREAM Act should be discarded or maintained.

Patrick argued that Democrats misinterpret the Republicans stance on the issue. “We’re not saying they can’t go to college,” said Patrick, arguing that from the perspective of fairness, illegal immigrants should not share the same benefits as legal citizens.

Looking at it from another angle, Van de Putte — one of the initial supporters of the bill — emphasized that it is important for the future of the Texas work force to educate as many your professionals as possible to avoid a lack of skilled workers in the near future.

Related Stories

More from Lorenzo Garcia/ News Editor

Editorial Board

At the University of Missouri, real change happened — but only when loss of university revenue was threatened. Missouri student…

More In News

Joseph Torres Co News Editor

The Student Government Association (SGA) at UTSA approved the release of stipends to the executive branch for Fall 2019 during…