State Sen. Dan Patrick, a radio talk show host who has been courting Tea Party activists, is promising to tell reporters Friday whether or not he will try to make a jump to the U.S. Senate in 2012.

Patrick, R-Houston, would be entering a crowded Republican primary to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. It could also bring him into battle with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the Republican leader of the state Senate, where Patrick now serves. Dewhurst has expressed interest in a bid for the U.S. Senate and is widely perceived as the front-runner.

In a possible preview of what's to come, Patrick has already harshly criticized Dewhurst for not pushing legislation that would make it a crime for federal Transportation Security Administration agents to conduct overly invasive searches of air passengers — the so-called "groping" legislation that sparked a big stink in the Legislature on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"Someone who will not stand up to the federal government, you have to ask yourself, is that the kind of person we need in the U.S. Senate?" Patrick said of Dewhurst, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

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Asked if he was planning on filing federal paperwork to run for the U.S. Senate, Patrick told the Tribune he would "rather answer those questions tomorrow."

He made it clear that he would be making news Friday, either by getting in or not getting in.

"If it happens, I'm happy to talk. If it doesn't happen, I'm happy to talk," Patrick said. "I think we really should wait until tomorrow."

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