State Sen. Dan Patrick trounced incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in Tuesday’s Republican runoff.
Patrick, a conservative talk show host and the tea party favorite, beat back Dewhurst’s re-election bid by a whopping 30 percentage points, 65 percent to 35 percent.
Dewhurst’s defeat is his second high-profile political mishap in two years – in 2012, the lieutenant governor lost the Republican senatorial primary to then GOP up-and-comer Ted Cruz, now a tea party darling and a rumored 2016 presidential hopeful.
After getting clobbered in this year’s primary (Patrick won by 13 points), Dewhurst launched what pundits have dubbed a particularly “nasty” campaign in the runoff election.
When Jerry Patterson, the current Texas Land Commissioner and one of Dewhurst’s supporters, revealed that earlier this month that Patrick had been hospitalized for mental illness some 30 years ago, Dewhurst insisted he had no knowledge of the leak. But when an email revealed his campaign may have been involved, pundits cried foul.
Earlier this year, the lieutenant governor also released a bizarre “Frozen” parody claiming that Dan Patrick had covered up his real name to conceal a bankruptcy.
“Won’t let them in, won’t let them see, that I’m a phony radio disc jockey… Let my lies rage on, lying never bothered me any way,” a computer-generated image of Dan Patrick wails in the spot.
Despite Dewhurst’s seemingly bizarre campaign strategies, Democratic strategists told the San Antonio Express News that a Patrick victory is exactly what they were hoping for.
Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic lieutenant gubernatorial nominee, can capitalize on Patrick’s harsh immigration rhetoric, they said.
A self-avowed “border champion,” Patrick lambasted Dewhurst, and by extension current Gov. Rick Perry, for allowing “millions to cross this border, including hardened criminals.” He also advocated the end of the Texas Dream Act, which permits undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state tuition at state colleges.
But even in a state where Hispanics comprise nearly 40 percent of the population, it’s unlikely that a Democrat could clinch the lieutenant governorship.
A triumphant Patrick thanked his supporters late Tuesday.
“Welcome to the grass roots of the Republican Party!” he said, according to ABC News affiliate WFAA. “Tea party folks love America, and they love the Constitution, and they love free markets, and they love the Second Amendment, and they love Texas.”
Dewhurst, on the other hand, was contrite:
“I don’t think anyone runs for office unless they think they can win, unless in their hearts they want to win. And I wanted to win this election for you,” he said, adding that he had called to congratulate Patrick and wished the likely lieutenant governor “the very best.”