Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Leticia Van De Putte stopped in Waco as part of her final campaign push before next week’s election. Van De Putte is way behind in the polls, but hoping for a surprise surge of voters. She’s been working to show the differences between her and her opponent, Republican State Senator Dan Patrick.
Some people call Texas’ lieutenant governor’s spot “the most powerful position in Texas politics.” Traditionally, the lieutenant governor gets to appoint all of the committee chairs in Texas’ Senate, assigns bills to those committees, and determine when bills will come up for debate or passage on the Senate Floor.
At a campaign stop in Waco, Democratic State Senator Leticia Van de Putte argued that she has the skills to organize differing opinions in the Republican-dominated Texas senate.
"I have always had the respect of other in the legislature and more than not it has paid off in that I have worked well with everybody because number one you treat people with respect and you bring people together, that’s my hallmark and that’s what I’ll do as lieutenant governor," Van de Putte said.
Van De Putte’s opponent, Republican State Senator Dan Patrick is a conservative talk radio host, not to be confused with the nationally syndicated sports radio host also named Dan Patrick. He rose in the ranks of Republicans at the Texas Capitol over the last four legislative sessions with fiery rhetoric opposing illegal immigration, abortion, and big government.
This year he beat long-term Republican Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in a runoff primary election—signaling what many have called a shift towards a more conservative political movement in Texas. Ashley Cruseturner, a political science professor at MCC says that if Patrick wins the election, it’ll be interesting to see if he can put his conservative campaign rhetoric into practice.
"I think we’re really going to have a test of whether you can radicalize the Texas Legislature, whether some of these folks who have a reputation for being for lack of a better word “extreme,” if that translates into something tangible," Cruseturner said.
Patrick has maintained a low profile since winning the Republican primary election for Lieutenant Governor. He hasn’t made many public appearances and communicates mostly by social media and web ads. And in a state where a Democrat hasn’t won a statewide office since 1994, Patrick can afford to play it safe. Van De Putte is 17 points behind Patrick according to a University of Texas/ Texas Tribune poll from last week.