Good News for Texas Tea Party Challenger

Patrick - DewhurstIn most elections around the country, the Tea Party candidate is usually the challenger and the underdog. However, there’s a big exception in the Texas GOP Lieutenant Governor’s race between Tea Party challenger Dan Patrick (left) and incumbent David Dewhurst (right).

With less than a month before the May 27 Republican primary, Patrick has the unlikely role of being a big favorite, by as much as 20 percent in some polls.

Going into a May 2 debate in Houston, pundits say that Dewhurst has to score a big win in the debate to have a chance of winning this election. Why did a previously popular incumbent fall from political grace so quickly? Because of a shift in Texas Republican politics and a series of false attack ads that backfired badly.

Dewhurst’s campaign was already seen to be in trouble when he launched the negative ads against Patrick. The ads claimed that Patrick legally changed his name from Danny Goeb to Dan Patrick to hide from his federal income tax debts. Instead of providing a boost his campaign, they may have hammered the nails in his political coffin.

The ads were so untrue that PolitiFact Texas gave these claims the rating of “Pants On Fire.”

Rice University Political Science Chair Mark Jones, who has been closely following the Lieutenant Governor’s race, said Dewhurst needs to win the Houston debate by a wide margin. He said the latest private polls shows Patrick leading almost 2 to 1.

“All Dan Patrick needs is a draw or even a slight loss, whereas David Dewhurst needs a blowout victory, which is going to be next to impossible unless Dan Patrick has a meltdown on the debate stage,” said Jones.