The race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor heated up Monday when Jerry Patterson accused Dan Patrick of lying about Patterson's stance on in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.
Patrick, a state senator from Houston, released an ad Monday morning claiming he is the only candidate in the race who opposes in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. Patterson, the state’s land commissioner, issued a statement disputing the ad’s veracity.
“There’s no polite way to put this — Dan Patrick is lying,” Patterson said. “I didn’t vote for and I never would have voted for or supported in-state tuition for illegal aliens.” Patterson has served as land commissioner since 2002 and was a state senator from 1993 to 1999, meaning he would not have voted on the issue in 2001, when lawmakers passed it and Gov. Rick Perry signed it into law.
In response to the allegation, Patrick spokesman Logan Spence pointed to a February interview with the El Paso Times in which Patterson said that while he would not support an in-state tuition bill for undocumented immigrants, he would "support a method of providing them a lawful status where in-state tuition for illegals wouldn't be a problem."
Added Spence: "It's like telling your kids that I don't want you to have a piece of candy, and here's $20 bucks to go buy a cake. It's going way beyond in-state tuition."
On Monday afternoon, Patterson was quickly joined by Patrick's two other opponents — incumbent David Dewhurst and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples — in challenging Patrick's characterization of their positions on the policy.
Travis Considine, a spokesman for Dewhurst, said in a statement that Dewhurst has "always opposed in-state tuition for illegal immigrants." Dewhurst was elected lieutenant governor in 2002, the year after the legislative vote.
Staples did vote for the legislation that allowed in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants while he served in the state Senate. But he said in a statement that he now opposed it.
"I oppose giving benefits to those who have violated our nation’s entry laws. If that bill came up for a vote today, it would not pass, and I support its repeal," Staples said. "The real problem is that Obama and the Federal government have failed to secure our border. I have a six point plan to address this problem that doesn't not include amnesty and starts with border security."