The first televised debate in the increasingly bitter Republican runoff for Texas lieutenant governor featured testy exchanges on Friday between incumbent David Dewhurst and challenger Dan Patrick, who frequently attacked each other personally while sparring over topics like immigration policy and last summer’s anti-abortion legislation.
Dewhurst, at one point calling a Patrick statement about the budget a “baldfaced lie," used the opportunity to continue attacks from his campaign ads, painting Patrick as dishonest and slamming him for a personal bankruptcy.
"This man is divorced from reality,” Dewhurst said, adding later, "Dan has a reputation in the Senate as a whiner, he’s a victim, that’s why he’s saying everything [that] we are saying is not true."
Patrick, a Houston state senator and the front-runner in the race, said he was "not going to let the lieutenant governor stand here and mislead the voters."
He also criticized Dewhurst for failing to prevent last summer's filibuster of anti-abortion legislation, which launched state Sen. Wendy Davis' gubernatorial candidacy.
Had Dewhurst displayed the proper leadership, Patrick said, "we wouldn’t have Wendy Davis as a rock star today and Texas with a target on our back from millionaires" across the country.
The winner of the May 27 runoff will face Democrat Leticia Van de Putte, a San Antonio state senator, in the general election.