State Capital Highlights by Ed Sterling


AUSTIN — Republican voters picked Dan Patrick to face Democrat Leticia Van de Putte in the race for lieutenant governor in November.

Patrick received 65 percent of the vote to incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s 35 percent in the May 27 runoff. Sen. Patrick, R-Houston, and Sen. Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, have seven years and 15 years of experience, respectively, as members of the 31-member Senate. 

Van de Putte ran unopposed in the March Democratic Party Primary.

Dewhurst has presided over the Senate since 2003. His term of office will expire on Dec. 31. A businessman in private life, Dewhurst has been credited for his leadership in balancing five two-year state budgets and in building a multi-billion dollar “rainy day” fund to be tapped in fiscal emergencies.

In other party primary runoff results, incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn will face Dallas businessman Dr. David M. Alameel, a Democrat, in the November general election. Alameel won the primary runoff with 72 percent of the vote to Kesha Rogers of Houston’s 28 percent. Jim Hogan of Cleburne won the Democratic runoff for agriculture commissioner over Richard S. “Kinky” Friedman. Hogan’s opponent in November will be former state Rep. Sid Miller of Stephenville, who beat former state Rep. Tommy Merritt of Longview in the GOP runoff. Â State Sen. Ken Paxton of McKinney, with 63.6 percent of the vote, won the GOP runoff for attorney general against state Rep. Dan Branch of Dallas, who received 36.4 percent. Pasadena oil, gas and petrochemical consultant Ryan Sitton won the GOP runoff for a seat on the three-member Texas Railroad Commission in a contest with former state Rep. Wayne Christian of Center.

Greenville physician Dr. Bob Deuell, a long-serving member of the Texas Senate, was defeated by 300 votes in a runoff against Bob Hall of Edgewood. 

And, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall of Rockwall, with 47.2 percent of the vote, lost in his runoff bid against John Ratcliffe, who received 52.8 percent. The outcome of this runoff was reported in the national news. Hall, 91, is a World War II veteran and the oldest member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was a Democrat when he first entered the House in 1981 and in 2004 switched to the Republican Party. Ratcliffe, who served under then-President George W. Bush as a U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, also served eight terms as mayor of Heath, Texas, a municipality just south of Hall’s home in Rockwall, 30 minutes east of Dallas.

Coming up this month are state party conventions during which nominations will be made official. The Republican State Convention will be held at Fort Worth Convention Center from June 5-7 and the Democratic State Convention will be held June 26-28 at Dallas Convention Center.

Hearing focuses on impeachment
Steps toward impeachment of University of Texas System regent Wallace Hall of Dallas continued May 21 when the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations met. Earlier in May the panel voted to move forward in processes leading toward having Hall removed from office.

The panel and the state’s Public Integrity Unit have been investigating Hall for nearly a year to determine if the regent misused his office in an attempt to have UT President William Powers Jr. fired. Invited to testify was Jeff Archer, Texas Legislative Council assistant executive counsel who explained the framework for developing articles of impeachment. 

Any member or group of members of the Legislature may confidentially submit a proposed article of impeachment, and submitted material would be parceled out to a trio of drafting attorneys, he said, adding that articles of impeachment drawn up by the House would be subject to review by Senate.

Texas House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel testified, saying the House could be called back into session by either by proclamation of the governor or by a majority of members of the House. If the committee were to adopt articles of impeachment to present for consideration in the House, steps would have to be taken such as publication of notice in newspapers giving the particulars of a special convening of the Legislature, Griesel said.


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