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As conservative activists across Texas continue to demand that Gov. Greg Abbott call a special session to pass the Lone Star Agenda, an 11-point conservative reform plan to unite and energize Republicans going into the 2020 elections, one prominent statewide leader is sending mixed signals.

In an email to supporters yesterday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he supports the Lone Star Agenda, but publicly asking the governor to call him and other lawmakers back to town to work on enacting it “would not be appropriate.”

Here’s the relevant part of Patrick’s email verbatim:

The Facts About the Lone Star Agenda – Make No Mistake, There’s Much More to Do
  
I totally understand the frustration of some in our grassroots over bills that were not signed into law that are included in the Lone Star Agenda. I, along with my Republican Senators who worked hard to pass bills out of the Senate on policies listed in the LSA, were just as frustrated. Quite a few of our conservative allies in the House, who also wanted to pass those bills, were also very frustrated. Governor Abbott was ready to sign those bills, had they gotten to his desk. But the frustration over the lack of those bills becoming law cannot divide conservatives as we approach 2020. 

The Senate passed 9 of the 10 policies listed on the Lone Star Agenda this session (see the list below). And, although we had unprecedented cooperation with the House on the major accomplishments discussed above, sadly, the votes weren’t there in the House to pass several of the LSA bills. Make no mistake, the Senate will once again pass these important bills at our very first opportunity. 

The Facts About a Special Session

I have seen the e-mails asking the Governor to call a Special Session. Some e-mails have even suggested I have the power to call one. I do not. That is the sole prerogative of the Governor. Other e-mails are demanding I publicly ask the Governor to call a Special Session. That would not be appropriate, and it is not how strong working relationships in any profession operate.

Frustration over the lack of those bills becoming law cannot divide conservatives as we approach 2020? 

It would be inappropriate for him to publicly ask Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session? 

Is that what Dan Patrick really believes? Is that what he wants Texans to believe?

This is a hard argument from someone who, at multiple times, demanded Abbott call lawmakers back to Austin for a special session in 2017. After the Texas House refused to pass conservative legislation that year, Patrick held a press conference in which he said, “I will ask Gov. Abbott to call us back again and again and again. People elect us to come here and get the job done.”

Grassroots Texas Republicans overwhelmingly supported him doing so. And when Abbott called a special session for 20 conservative issues, conservative activists descended on the Texas Capitol with buttons emblazoned with “Pass Them All” and “20 for 20.”

That’s the kind of unity Lone Star Agenda advocates are talking about having again, if only Texas Republican leaders will stand up and fight for them. 

But Patrick still doesn’t quite get it, as he later writes:

Some grassroots leaders have said that conservative lawmakers haven’t been listening to them. Those same grassroots leaders were key to my campaign victories in 2014 and 2018, and I’m very thankful for that, but I just disagree with them on this. It is crystal clear that the Republican Senators have been listening. We supported the LSA, and as you can see, we passed 90% of it. There were many members in the House who also supported their agenda, but unfortunately, there just weren’t enough of them.

Alluding to a Texas Scorecard commentary written by Grassroots America We the People’s JoAnn Fleming that was aptly titled “You Guys Stopped Listening,” Patrick admits there were shortcomings in the legislative session but explains away those shortcomings by saying he and other lawmakers were listening, but the problem was in the Texas House. 

That’s a strong step for a lawmaker who has continuously been out on the speaking circuit referring to a legislative session that resulted in a massive budget increase and property tax hikes as a “Super Bowl.”

But there’s still a gulf between where Patrick is today and where he was earlier in his political career, when conservatives were excited to support him, and that’s the problem. The lieutenant governor says he wants conservative activists and Republicans to be unified, but he’s not willing to fight for them—not if it means upsetting the establishment swamp in Austin.

When Patrick says it would not be appropriate for him to demand Abbott call a special session, that it’s “not how strong working relationships in any profession operate,” he’s repeating a siren swamp song that’s been told to every lawmaker in Austin.

We’re a team. We’re a family. We’re here to govern. It’s time to stop campaigning and start legislating. Those activists don’t quite understand… 

And going against the team has a cost for Dan Patrick or any lawmaker in the Austin Swamp—they might not invite you to their breakfast. Jarring, to be sure, but maybe if you promise to keep your mouth shut and be a team player, you can get invited back.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has dipped his toe in the water of returning to his old self, but he has to commit to one of two paths fully.

He can choose to be a leader, stand as conservatives’ champion in the Lone Star State, and fight alongside those who actually appreciate and support him for policies he actually wants to pass.

Or he can continue to cower and kowtow to regime who hate him, laugh at him behind closed doors, and are entirely opposed to his agenda.

This is a commentary submitted and published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to [email protected].