The 2014 election for lieutenant governor in Texas promises to be the most competitive statewide race in the state. While the Democrats have yet to field a viable candidate, the Republicans are offering four highly qualified candidates, who all have plausible paths to victory. Earlier this week I sat down for a conversation with Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. He is one of those four candidates. There were no ground rules and no questions were out of bounds.
So I asked him about guns, as Patterson is the author of Texas’ 1996 concealed carry law. We also talked about the battle over Texas’ new law that raises health standards in abortion clinics, and why he believes that fight could have been handled more effectively by one of his opponents in the lt. gov. race. The “Texas miracle” which has propelled the Lone Star State to its place atop national business rankings also came up. Patterson also addressed what should be done about the Texas-Mexico border, and came out strongly against the U.S. Senate’s “gang of eight” immigration bill. Patterson also addressed the controversial CSCOPE education curriculum.
In a story previewing this interview, Patterson addressed the possibility that Texas could become an open carry state. Watch the interview here.
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On how Lt. Gov. Dewhurst should have handled the abortion bill in the last session:
JEP: David’s a decent man, he’s got a good heart, he’s a friend of mine. But there’s a point…when after you’ve been there a while, you lose your impact and effectiveness. It’s one of the things that comes with incumbency…David tries to be very accommodating sometime with the other side, and you know, you can do that on occasion, but on occasion you just need to roll people. The Democrats would understand that, they’ve done it themselves, if they’re in power they’ll do it themselves again…
Candidly, you have to wonder how that [the abortion bill] was up on the last day of the session. That should have been done prior to that time and when you get to a circumstance that you know you probably may not come out on top, it’s better to pull back and fight another day. In my estimation we should have passed those two other bills…and then sine died, come back the next day in a new special session and passed the pro-life bill that ultimately did pass.
Is Democrat state Sen.Wendy Davis a threat to the Republican dominance in Texas?
JEP: I think she’s a threat. I don’t believe she’s gonna win but she’s a threat in that she will mobilize a party that from their perspective has been too long dormant and basically not in the game. She’ll be their hero, their star, she could change some down-ballot races. I think there’s be folks coming out to vote who otherwise wouldn’t vote…She’s not gonna be the next governor but she could get the turnout in particular, maybe in Travis County where we have a lot of student population and if we have a competitive commissioner’s race or JP race or maybe a state rep race, could make a difference.
On the U.S. Senate’s immigration bill:
JEP: I oppose that bill. I do not oppose immigration reform because in my view, border security and immigration reform are hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. But that bill is not an immigration reform bill. It’s a, uh, organized labor continued employment act. It provides a path to citizenship which I think should not be a component of an immigration bill that we talk about today. In my view we need to talk about citizenship at a later date, we need to talk about securing our borders, and doing so through a guest worker program for a certain segment of the population that’s here. But immigration reform should not at this time have anything to do with amnesty or with citizenship.
On changing leaders:
JEP: Well, we need some bold leadership on things that are not the sizzle, sexy terms that Republican primary voters focus on a great deal. Texas has water issues, Texas has infrastructure, transportation issues, and it’s going to take someone who will stand up and maybe do something that’s a little innovative or bold or not necessarily completely embraced by everyone. Not necessarily having to do with money either. There’s some things we can do over at the Texas Department of Transportation to change their bid process, maybe save some money, but it’s going to be a tough job to get 181 members of the Texas legislature to pass something unless you give them cover, unless you give them some motivation, leadership, inspiration, and frankly a little salesmanship, and I’m the guy that can do that.
On CSCOPE and education in Texas:
JEP: My thought about CSCOPE is that there’s a lot of attention being paid today that maybe should’ve been paid in prior sessions when the legislation that essentially enabled CSCOPE was passed without controversy. And there’s a lot of things being said today that I’m not sure are completely accurate as to who’s responsible, who should we pat on the back. We have an elected State Board of Education – fifteen members elected in fifteen districts around Texas. They had at one time responsibility for curriculum and a variety of things. But the legislature has continued to emasculate the SBOE and then take more and more authority to the legislature…The legislature has continued to diminish the authority of the State Board of Education and we need to get them back in this process.
Note: The brief audio pause you hear in Commissioner Patterson’s answer to this question is due to the camera ending one record file and starting a new one.
What is his favorite firearm?
JEP: Colt 1911 .45…I carried one in Vietnam, as a matter of fact I carried my own, personal, in Vietnam, still have it. In fact I was shooting with it yesterday.
Patterson then qualified his answer: The 1911 is his favorite handgun, while the AR that “Madame Feinstein wants to ban” is his favorite long gun and the side-by-side 20 gauge is his favorite shotgun.
Why is the Second Amendment so important?
JEP: The Second Amendment is the defender of the rest, along with, if I had to pick the two that were most necessary for continued liberty, it would be the First and the Second. Because without those two all the others are in jeopardy. And the Second Amendment is the ultimate leverage for a free people to stay that way.