(Orange, Texas)


June 28, 2013

Texas Senate blowup threatens lt. gov.'s future


AUSTIN, Texas —

"Clearly his opponents pounced on this. The meltdown in the Senate amplified the problems Dewhurst already had with his base among GOP primary voters," said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

"It wasn't his best moment," added Republican political consultant Bill Miller. "It was a national show. It was being viewed by people around the country and around the world. It was bad TV. (But) I think it's survivable. He already had people wanting his job, so there's nothing too new to that."

Dewhurst, who is scheduled to speak Saturday at the National Right to Life conference in suburban Dallas, said at the time that he didn't lose control of the chamber. He later released a statement saying he was "furious" about how the session ended.

"(An) unruly, screaming mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics derailed legislation intended to protect the health of Texas women and their babies," Dewhurst said. "I pledge to Texas one thing: This fight is far from over."

He has since declined comment.

The veteran politician had already been trying to patch up a political career staggered by a crushing loss in last year's U.S. Senate race to political newcomer and tea party darling Ted Cruz, who labeled Dewhurst a moderate. That loss during the GOP primary stunned the Republican establishment, and it drove Dewhurst to do whatever he could to restore his conservative credentials in 2013 on volatile issues.

After the regular legislative session ended, Dewhurst pushed Perry to call the special session and put abortion on the agenda. When that effort fizzled, his enemies pounced.

"In the end, the responsibility for the Texas Senate falls on one man," said Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, one of three Republicans challenging Dewhurst in the 2014 election. "I strongly believe he has lost his grip on the reins of the Senate and his horse has run wild."

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