State Sen. Dan Patrick is one of the four candidate vying for the GOP nomination in the Texas lieutenant governor primary. He has run strong on a tough border security position. That has been complicated by revelations that he employed several illegal aliens back in the 1980s. He employed them at his Houston sports bars circa 1983 and 1984, a couple of years before the 1986 federal immigration reform law made it illegal for American companies to hire illegal workers. But still, not good if you’re Sen. Patrick and you’re running as the toughest guy on border security.
Miguel Andrade, the Missouri City maintenance worker who says Houston Sen. Dan Patrick employed him when he was in the country illegally in the mid-1980s, said in a phone interview today that he used to consider the conservative talk show host “like my father.”
“I saw him as a very good person. Almost like my father,” said Andrade. “He was so good at that time, helping Hispanics grow up in this country. We were so appreciative of him.”
He said he was surprised and disappointed to learn that Patrick, in his 2006 race for the Texas Senate, “was saying bad things about the Hispanic community and we have disease and all this stuff.”
If you read the whole story, there are a couple of takeaways. One, Patrick knowingly hired illegal aliens a couple of years before doing so was against the law. Two, he treated them well as their employer. Three, the “hypocrite” charge that will flow from this will probably stick. Complicating things a bit more, the son of one of the men Patrick hired is now serving in the US military.
There was a way to get out in front of this in a way that might have neutralized it. Patrick obviously remembers hiring the men, and remembers his relationship with them. This was all likely to come out at some point. The campaign of rival Jerry Patterson dug it up, but any of the other campaigns could have beaten them to it. All four of the campaigns are run by seasoned pros who know their way around opposition research.
Patrick could have mentioned in a speech somewhere that even he, the toughest border security advocate around (in accordance with his campaign themes) hired illegal aliens a long time ago, but times have changed, the threat of terrorism has risen, the drug cartels are hyper-violent now, and the old practices that nearly every business in the state used to engage in without thinking about it just aren’t good enough now. But he didn’t do that and now his rivals are skewering him.
Early voting in this race and others is underway across the state. It continues to February 28, with the primary held on March 4.