Patrick Goes on Offense Post-Session

Patrick reflects on his first term as lite gov

Patrick Goes on Offense Post-Session
Photo by John Anderson

While the 84th legislative session ended on Monday, the fun part is just getting started: the post-session evaluation.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick took the offensive this morning during a conversation with the Texas Tribune’s founder Evan Smith. Up for discussion were legislative outcomes, changes in the two-thirds rule, and Patrick’s political aspirations. Upon entering office, Patrick promised a new era of conservatism and he believes himself and his senators did just that. He called the 84th Lege one “heck of a session.”

This “heck of a session” included much fighting between the House and the Senate over ethics, immigration and open carry.

Patrick deflected questions about apparent tension between the two chambers of the Legislature by passing it off as a construction of the media. He says that the House and Senate both had successful sessions. Part of the success, he claims, comes from the change to the two-thirds rule, which guarantees legislation can pass without bipartisan support. Instead of requiring 21 out of 31 votes to pass an item, only 19 votes are necessary – a great strategy for Republicans considering the Senate is comprised of 20 Republicans and 11 Democrats.

Patrick tried to get himself out of the hole he dug for himself by claiming only 30 bills out of 175 passed with 20 or fewer votes. After Smith asked several questions about legislation that failed, Patrick became irritated and demanded that the discussion shift towards legislation that did pass. “I’m sure the speaker can point to some bills that didn’t pass in the Senate,” he said, referring to the Tribune’s upcoming discussion with Speaker of the House Joe Straus.

Other names that Patrick dropped included Gov. Greg Abbott’s. Instead of starting off by greeting Smith or the crowd, Patrick wanted to make his aspirations on (not) running for governor clear. Patrick brought up conversations he had with Smith on Sept. 22 of last year.

“At 30 minutes and 20 seconds in, I said ‘Put it in cement. I am not running against Greg Abbott in four years or anytime thereafter.’ said Patrick. “We need to get that word out.”

Patrick contends that there are no tensions between himself and Abbott and that lieutenant governor will be the last position he’ll ever hold in office. He’ll keep running as long as he keeps getting elected.

During all the election chatter, the 2016 presidential race became a topic of conversation. At this point, Patrick made it clear he’s not running for president either. "I have the best job in politics in the country. Why would I give that up?,” he said. Aside from dismissing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and real estate mogul Donald Trump as presidential candidates for the Republican Party, Patrick refused to side with any candidate. He said this extended to contested Senate races.

However, Patrick was not shy about voicing his opinions on Sen. Hillary Clinton and Gov. Martin O’Malley who are both making the run. He called both candidates mistakes for America after an incoherent rant about O’Malley. Shortly after, Smith opened the floor for questions and a discussion of campus carry was initiated.

An audience member asked why the bill was passed when so many higher-ed officials were opposed to it. Patrick responded that while the University of Texas’ Chancellor William McRaven opposed it, officials at Texas Tech University and Texas A&M University support the legislation.

Missing from the conversation was the opinions of the other 101 public institutions in the state of Texas.

With several pieces of legislation awaiting signature from Abbott and other bills going into effect in the upcoming months, the legislative sideshow continues.

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Dan Patrick, 84th Texas Legislature

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