Even as we start voting in important local and constitutional elections, the 2014 primaries are barreling toward us. This is especially true of the race for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor. Because the train of this race has left the station and already seems at times to be on a course that could derail the entire Republican ticket next fall, people who care deeply about the future of our party and this State must start to express their preferences in order to try to avoid such a derailment.
It is in this spirit that I have decided to make my endorsement for Lieutenant Governor now, and to explain the basis for it.
Before I do so, though, I want to make a few preliminary points:
- All four men running for the GOP nomination are competent to run the Texas Senate based on their experiences of serving in, or running the Senate. Moreover, at least three of these men have the temperament required to manage the Senate. If any of the three men who have both the competence and temperament to be Lieutenant Governor win the primary, I promise to actively support that candidate next fall; if the fourth candidate wins the primary, I will support the Republican ticket, but I will take no active role in support of that candidate.
- My normal rule for primary races involving an incumbent is that the challenger bears the burden to prove to voters that he or she is not only competent to serve in the office, but also that the incumbent does not deserve re-election and the challenger would be the better choice. I held myself to that standard when I ran for office, and I expect other challengers to meet this burden as well. However, I cannot apply this rule to this race. To do so would require an endorsement of the status quo in Austin for four more years, because, as my friend David Jennings continually reminds me, David Dewhurst has been a good Lieutenant Governor. But this election gives voters the first opportunity in almost 12 years to bring new thinking and approaches to applying our conservative principles to Texas government, so I cannot just blindly embrace the status quo and forgo this opportunity. Therefore, in reaching my decision I have treated this office as if it were open with no incumbent running, so as to review each candidate on a level field to determine which one would make the best Lieutenant Governor going forward.
- Consistent with what I wrote in my last post, this endorsement is personal and does not reflect the thinking of any organization of which I am a member, officer, or board member. By making this endorsement, I am choosing to recuse myself from the evaluation and endorsement process for this race conducted by United Republicans of Harris County. This decision was not easy to make, and I doubt that I will make another such statewide endorsement before United Republicans completes and publishes its endorsements; but I believe this race is important enough to make this exception.
With these points in mind, I am making my endorsement based on a saying attributed to Andrew Jackson:
One man with courage makes a majority.
Specifically, I am looking for a candidate who has the knowledge and experience to understand the current and long-term issues facing Texas, the courage to address these issues, and the humility and wisdom to build a majority of Texans and Texas Senators in support of effective solutions based on conservative principles. I believe the one candidate who has shown that he has these necessary qualities is Jerry Patterson. A retired Marine officer and aviator who served his country in war and peace, Jerry has at least twice shown me that he has the courage I am looking for in the next Lieutenant Governor.
In the mid-1990s, when many Texas neighborhoods and businesses were suffering from an explosion of violent crime and many people here and across the country were clamoring for more gun control, Jerry stepped forward and instead called for Texans to be able to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms in response to these developments by advocating for a concealed-carry law. At the time, the chattering class (including many Republicans) was skeptical of Jerry’s idea, and he faced a daunting task to pass such legislation while serving in the minority party in the both houses of the Legislature. But, he had the courage to build support for this landmark legislation with the public and among legislators from both parties. With the passage of Texas’ law, a movement for such laws spread across the country together with a movement for clarifying and strengthening the Second Amendment right to bear arms. In the almost twenty years that have passed since Jerry took his stand, the Supreme Court has twice ruled that the right to bear arms is an individual right, and many locales and states have passed concealed-carry laws. As further vindication of Jerry’s pioneering efforts, credible studies show that locales and states where such laws have been implemented have experienced a statistically significant greater drop in violent crime than locales and states that have retained or increased restrictive gun control laws.
Then, in 2012, Jerry—alone among our statewide elected officials—not only recognized the need to change our party’s rhetoric and approach to immigration reform, he exhibited the courage to act on this need in a wise and measured way. When he stood and addressed the delegates of the 2012 convention of the Republican Party of Texas to support the “Texas Solution” contained in the new proposed platform plank, he showed immense political courage—courage that helped forge an overwhelming majority vote in favor of the new plank—when he knew that many of those delegates had entered the convention hall pre-disposed to oppose the new plank. In the end, Jerry helped create a majority of delegates willing to direct our party to take a new and better approach to immigration reform, and to lead a new national discussion on this important issue.
Go to Jerry’s website, http://votepatterson.com, and browse the “Issues” he has analyzed and addressed in detail, and I believe you will see evidence of a serious mind with the courage to address the issues we are facing with a fresh approach based on conservative principles. Whether it is education, water, transportation, immigration and border security, or state finances, Jerry is showing the courage needed to build a conservative majority to address these issues with long-term solutions, rather than by broadcasting or preaching to a vocal faction of the base of the party with worn-out slogans. It is clear that Jerry is ready to help govern Texas into the future, rather than keep us mired in the tired dogmas of the past, which too often have impaired our ability to apply real, timeless conservative principles to the problems facing Texas.
I know that I will not always agree with Jerry. But, I trust that he always will show the courage to present and debate his ideas candidly, and will use humility and wisdom to listen to others as he works to build a majority around conservative solutions.
This type of courage was once the hallmark of our greatest Republican leaders, including Lincoln and Reagan. And those leaders also shared another gift that Jerry possesses: the gift to be able to communicate his arguments clearly and with humor—humor that helps to engage and persuade. Use of such humor is not—as one of his opponents alleges—a personality flaw or a sign of a lack of seriousness. Instead, it is a gift that our leaders desperately need as we work to persuade a new and diverse generation of Texans to support and implement conservative public policies. Show me a man who disparages the use of humor in the public square, and I’ll show you a man who takes himself and his “cause” too seriously to be trusted with the power of elected office in a democracy.
It is because I trust Jerry Patterson to be a courageous conservative reformer, that I whole-heartedly endorse his candidacy to be the next Lieutenant Governor of Texas. I hope you will support him, too.