Playing Poorly

In a series of political moves that would be expected of a rookie to the Capitol scene, Lt. Governor Patrick continues to make poor plays. I have already described his earlier moves against gubernatorial appointees in what is clearly his initiation of his all but declared run against Abbott in 2018. Those moves continue as the session deepens. Patrick has enlisted the aid of the lobby and pr operations of mega donor Tim Dunn and his cronies in his effort to embarrass the Governor. Recent postings by head Dunn lobbyist Mike Sullivan and his young boys at AgendaWise are attacking Abbott over his position on tax relief, appointments and legislative priorities.

And perfectly on cue, when Patrick last week saw that his ” property tax cut” , which isn’t anything of the sort, had hit a wall in the House, he made his call to Dunn to crank up the lobby and media machine and attack the House. Blog posts, Twitter, mail and Robocalls cranked up simultaneously, attacking members in their districts. It could be because he has figured out that the House wasn’t even paying attention to his wild machinations and bullying attempts. Speaker Bonnen, in his classic manner, was boringly dismissive of the Senate ” tax cut ” plan, calmly enjoying the attention a statewide official was giving him, and calmly offering to debate the Lt. Governor about the merits of the significant House tax cut plan versus those if the smoke and mirrors Senate plan. No word on whether Patrick is up to that. Friendly suggestion from here: don’t do it Governor Patrick. Your few years on the Senate floor didn’t prepare you for a real debate against a seasoned House member.

In another poorly executed move, and presumably to embarrass Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick has chosen to holdup the House border security bill that overwhelmingly passed the House over a month ago. Border security is far and away the number one priority for the Governor, the state and the voters. As good as Patrick is on the stump, voters don’t take lightly when politicians trade their safety and well-being for cheap political theater to advance their personal agenda. Patrick is all worked up and lashing out about his failed “tax cut plan”. Attacking the Governor and House members using lobby operations of huge donors is one thing. Putting constituents in danger is another.

It is notable that the Dunn lobby machine has been eerily silent on border security for quite some time. Is it possible that Dunn has exercised his noted ability as the “Lt. Gov. Whisperer” and is opposed to border security? Dunn, Wallace Hall and Mike Sullivan have all been recently sighted at the East end of the Capitol. Sullivan has what amounts to a reserved office space it is reported by senate staff. Bills with the Dunn stamp of approval get moved quickly according to Senators, some of whom have been made to explain themselves to Dunn at the insistence of Patrick. Very odd.

Expectations for Patrick at session beginning were high. He had hired good folks with experience to guide him through the intricacies of leading. But no one with even a basic level of understanding of the legislative process would recommend his moves this session. Patrick knows from watching that the House will not bow to attacks from Dunn. Dunn has spent millions to fund these attacks against the Speaker and his leadership team, and has gotten nowhere. In fact, he has gone in reverse. Dunn and his lobby operations are openly derided in the House. (Could be why they’ve stayed at the Senate end this session. Although they were on our hallway last week for a lobby visit ). Now Patrick is using the entire Dunn machine to attack the Speaker and most R members with very expensive, clearly coordinated, attacks about the merits of the Senate “tax cut plan”.

This attack plan, and holding border security hostage, is playing political games. And playing them poorly.

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