WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An already-nasty Republican primary fight for lieutenant governor is getting expensive, too.
Tea party-backed state Sen. Dan Patrick announced Monday that he’d raised $4 million just between Feb. 23 and last week — a large haul in a short time for a lieutenant governor’s race, even in a state with as many deep-pocketed political donors as Texas.
Still, the man Patrick is favored to unseat, David Dewhurst, promised, “Our numbers will be a little bit higher than that.”
Patrick, a talk show host from Houston who joined the Texas Senate in 2007, reported spending $3.75 million on statewide media advertising and says he has $400,000 in cash remaining before the May 27 runoff.
Dewhurst has yet to divulge his latest fundraising totals. But the millionaire energy mogul from Houston, who has been lieutenant governor since 2003, has not been shy in the past about pouring his personal fortune into his campaigns.
Asked if he would do so again before casting his early voting ballot Monday at an Austin grocery store, Dewhurst replied: “We’re going to do that which is necessary to stay competitive.”
The lieutenant governor’s job is very powerful since it controls the flow of legislation in the Senate.
Patrick beat Dewhurst by 13 percentage points during the primary in March, but failed to win a majority in a four-way race. The runoff winner faces Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio in November.
Last week, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who finished last in the first round of lieutenant governor voting, released court documents showing Patrick had struggled with depression in the 1980s and detailing an apparent suicide attempt.
Patrick responded that he hadn’t been treated or medicated for depression in 30 years, but didn’t directly address the reported suicide.
Dewhurst said Monday that his campaign wasn’t behind the release of the documents, but that Paterson contacted him about them around two weeks ago.
“Stay away from it, Jerry. I’m staying away from it. I don’t want anything to do with it,” Dewhurst said he told Patterson at the time. In releasing the documents, Patterson said Patrick was a liar and voters need to know about his medical history.
Dewhurst said he would “leave it up to the voters” to decide if the information should affect the race.
“If this speaks to the character and the capacity to govern and lead of Dan Patrick, than I think it should be on the voters’ minds,” he said. “If it doesn’t, than it shouldn’t.”