Dan Patrick

Capital Tonight: Political world reacts to Castro-Patrick debate on immigration

It started out as a Twitter spat, but on Tuesday night, Sen. Dan Patrick and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro finally met face-to-face for a debate over immigration reform and border security.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at highlights from the debate, plus we spoke to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, whose attempts at immigration reform in Washington have drawn widespread attention.


What does our immigration system look like now? The co-director of UT Law School’s Immigration Clinic, Denise Gilman joined us to focus on the facts about conditions on the border, the reasons for illegal immigration and more.


One of the questions in Tuesday night’s debate centered around former state Rep. Aaron Peña, who’s accused both the Democratic Party of taking Hispanics for granted and the Republican Party of going too far with anti-immigrant rhetoric. We sat down with Peña and Democratic strategist Harold Cook to get their take on the debate, and to dig into some new poll numbers on statewide races.


The state’s driver responsibility program is getting a second look, after criticism that it unfairly targets low-income Texans. We heard what local judges think about a possible change.

State officials respond to judge’s ruling on same-sex marriage

Gov. Rick Perry joined a wide range of state officials in responding to a federal judge’s ruling against the ban on same-sex marriage in Texas.

In a press release sent shortly after the ruling was announced, the governor had this to say:

“Texans spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly voting to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in our Constitution, and it is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens. The 10th Amendment guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions, and this is yet another attempt to achieve via the courts what couldn’t be achieved at the ballot box. We will continue to fight for the rights of Texans to self-determine the laws of our state.”

A long list of Republican lawmakers echoed the governor’s sentiments, either through official statements or social media. All four candidates running for lieutenant governor decried the ruling as well, although Sen. Dan Patrick drew the most attention with an uncharacteristic typo, which was later deleted.







Sen. Leticia Van de Putte joined Rep. Garnet Coleman, Sen. Kirk Watson and other Democratic lawmakers in support of the decision. Van de Putte’s statement read:

“There’s a growing movement to apply the law equally to everyone without prejudice. And I welcome it, because that’s who we are at our best. Nothing about this interferes with communities of faith. Given today’s Texas decision, along with federal courts in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and other states, I hope this issue is resolved quickly by the Supreme Court so that the government no longer dictates our private lives.”

Sen. Van de Putte is also running for lieutenant governor, meaning the divide between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of same-sex marriage will likely be put into stark relief during the general election. However, Attorney General Greg Abbott seemed to try to bridge that divide Wednesday, at least in tone:

“This is an issue on which there are good, well-meaning people on both sides. And, as the lower court acknowledged today, it’s an issue that will ultimately be resolved by a higher court. Texas will begin that process by appealing today’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit. Because the judge has stayed his own decision, his ruling has no immediate practical effect. Instead, the ultimate decision about Texas law will be made by the Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court.”

As attorney general, Abbott will be tasked with defending the state’s ban when it goes before an appeals court later this year. Abbott expressed optimism that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals would honor previous rulings and overturn Wednesday’s decision.

Dewhurst responds to opponent’s undocumented worker troubles

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is responding to a recent Dallas Morning News article drawing negative attention to his opponent, Sen. Dan Patrick, for allowing undocumented immigrants to work under him 30 years ago.

“I’m shocked and disappointed at the hypocrisy of Dan Patrick. It’s just one more example of preaching one thing and doing something else,” Dewhurst said.

Dewhurst addressed the controversy while speaking to reporters at an early voting event in Austin Thursday. Sen. Patrick has said he wasn’t aware that four men working in his Houston-area sports bars in the 1980s were in the country illegally, and that the workers falsified their employment forms.

The information came to light after a private investigator hired by one of Patrick’s opponents, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, contacted one of the workers.

Sen. Patrick has made border security and illegal immigration key issues in his campaign, and the revelation sparked criticism from all three of Sen. Patrick’s opponents in the lieutenant governor’s race.




Patrick ad touts border security amid undocumented worker dust-up

Sen. Dan Patrick is releasing a new statewide ad touting his stance on border security, on the same day a Dallas Morning News article is raising questions over undocumented workers once employed at one of his sports bars.

A private investigator hired by Patrick’s opponent Jerry Patterson located 48-year-old Miguel Andrade. Andrade told the paper that he and three other undocumented workers from Mexico worked one of Patrick’s Houston-area sports bars in the 1980s. He told the paper that while Patrick did not hire him personally, he was aware he was living in the country illegally and that “Patrick wrote him a letter of recommendation to help him establish temporary residency after a 1986 federal law offered amnesty for undocumented immigrants.”

Patrick, who is one of four Republicans vying for lieutenant governor, has been outspoken about the need to end illegal immigration across the Mexico border. Other parts of his platform include doing away with sanctuary cities, ending in-state tuition for undocumented students and prohibiting employers from knowingly employing undocumented workers.

He denies knowledge of Andrade’s status and is accusing his opponents of playing dirty politics. “They found a former employee of ours, out of hundreds, who says a manager, not me, hired him around 1984 as a dishwasher,” he said in a Facebook post. “The worker admits when required to fill out W4 employment forms he supplied false documents & social security number.” Patrick says the worker is also lying about other allegations, including that he offered to help Andrade visit Mexico.

You can watch Patrick’s new ad, below.

Patrick touts Christian conservative past in new ad

Sen. Dan Patrick released a new statewide television Thursday. Patrick, who is running for lieutenant governor, is touting his Christian conservative leadership in the Texas Senate.

Patrick points to several laws he sponsored during his time in the legislature, including the controversial sonogram bill in 2011 and legislation to include more faith-based language. “My faith means everything to me. That’s why I placed ‘In God we Trust’ in the Senate and ‘Under God’ in our state pledge.”

Patrick faces Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples in the March Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat Leticia Van de Putte in the general election.

Lieutenant governor candidates release early fundraising numbers

Two candidates for lieutenant governor are neck-and-neck when it comes to fundraising, according to early numbers released by their campaigns.

Sen. Dan Patrick and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples both report $3.1 million in cash on hand, ahead of a Jan. 15 deadline to make finance reports public. The Staples campaign raised a total of $2 million before the Jan. 1 cutoff date, slightly more than Sen. Patrick’s $1.7 million.

Both candidates are hoping to unseat Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who has a significant lead in the polls, but whose fundraising totals were diminished at the outset by an extended special session and an alleged embezzelment scandal. Former campaign manager Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield is accused of stealing more than $2 million from Dewhurst’s campaign accounts. In a recent settlement, Barfield agreed to turn over a home valued at more than $2 million to repay the accounts. It’s unclear whether that money will be added to Dewhurst’s re-election totals.

Dewhurst and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson have not released their fundraising totals yet.

Capital Tonight: Looking back at an erratic week in politics

From questions about who can keep their jobs to a surprise challenger for a high-profile Senate seat, it’s been an erratic week for some public officials.

We sat down with Morgan Smith of the Texas Tribune, Peggy Fikac of the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle, and Texas Monthly’s senior executive editor, Brian Sweany, to talk about where things stand now that the dust has settled.


The topic of teaching creationism has come up in the race for lieutenant governor. Republican Sen. Dan Patrick joined us to explain his stance on the issue, along with border security, graduation requirements and more.


Plus, Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to fact-check a claim made by the David Dewhurst campaign.

Internal poll points to Dewhurst, Patrick runoff

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst continues to lead the lieutenant governor’s primary race, but not with enough support to avoid a runoff.

A new pollcommissioned by Sen. Dan Patrick’s campaign, shows Dewhurst polling in first place with 40 percent. Patrick is in second, with 18 percent. Patrick’s campaign is praising the new numbers. Campaign officials say Patrick has gained four points on Dewhurst since May.

“These results show what I am seeing at events across the state,” said Patrick. “The voters are ready for new authentic conservative leadership in the Texas Senate and I am their candidate.”

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson are tied for third with four percent each.