The Democratic Side of Texas’ Gubernatorial Race Just Got Crowded

This week in Texas politics with the Texas Tribune.

By Rhonda FanningDecember 12, 2017 8:05 am, , ,

Time for the week that was in Texas politics with Aman Batheja, political editor for the Texas Tribune.  

Jerry Patterson, the Republican predecessor to Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, is planning to file to run for his old job. The news comes amidst criticism of the General Land Office’s efforts to renovate the site of the Alamo into a center for Texas history.

Patterson once held the [Texas Land Commissioner] office, but he lost that position so he could run for lieutenant governor,” Batheja says. “Ever since then, Jerry Patterson has been a very vocal critic of George P. Bush and how he’s running the office.”

In Washington, Texas lawmaker Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) has made headlines after it was revealed that a 2014 sexual harassment case against him was settled using taxpayer funds. The lawmaker has since pledged to pay back the $84,000.

But that might not be the end of Farenthold’s political woes. Bech Bruun, the head of the Texas Water Development Board, recently resigned from his position in anticipation of a bid to unseat Farenthold, and the House Ethics Committee has created a subcommittee to look into Farenthold’s 2014 case again.

“In 2015, the [Ethics Committee] said that they didn’t think there was anything else for them to do,” Batheja says. “Now, with this paradigm shift on sexual harassment that we’ve seen in the last few months, they’ve decided that they want to look at the case again.”

Back in Texas, the field for the governor’s race has suddenly grown bigger. On the Democratic side, it’s the most crowded it’s been in decades, with at least eight candidates. That list includes Lupe Valdez, the Dallas County sheriff, and Andrew White, the son of former governor Mark White.

Batheja says whatever chances the Democrats have in the race will be incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott’s positive performance in the polls, as well as his access to a large amount of campaign funds.

“According to some estimates, he has the largest war chest in the country of any governor,” Batheja says. “But what may be more important for a Democrat running for governor is for them to lead their party and rally the base, because there are lots of seats in Congress that Democrats are very optimistic about.”


Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.