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Claims of Draft-Dodging Enter GOP Lt. Gov. Runoff

Amid a heated Republican runoff for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Dan Patrick is denying a new accusation from a former opponent that he avoided the draft for the Vietnam War.

Sen. Dan Patrick R-Houston during am education committee hearing on April 14th, 2014

Amid a heated Republican runoff race with incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, state Sen. Dan Patrick is facing an accusation from a former opponent that he avoided the draft for the Vietnam War.

The charge — which Patrick's campaign quickly denied — came from Jerry Patterson at a Thursday news conference where he announced his endorsement of Dewhurst and what he called a "non-endorsement" of Patrick.

Patterson, who currently serves as the state's land commissioner, earned 12 percent of the vote in the four-way March primary. He said Patrick needed to explain "how he failed to be drafted" during the Vietnam War despite the low draft number he would have received based on his birthdate and inititals.

The Patrick campaign said in a statement released after the news conference that when Patrick was drafted in 1972, he reported for a physical exam and determined medically ineligible because of multiple breaks to his leg from a childhood bone cyst and a serious injury to his knee while playing high school sports. Referring to Patterson as Dewhurst's "newest mouthpiece," the statement said Dewhurst and Patterson had "sunk to a new low."

"That they would attempt to smear me, and question my patriotism, is reprehensible. These men have no honor; they know no shame," said Patrick.  

When asked by the Tribune, Patrick spokesman Logan Spence declined to provide documentation of the medical deferral.

"Patterson makes a false charge that he can't back up and Dan has to go dig up proof of something that happened 40 years ago?" he wrote in an email.

Condemning what he called Patrick's history of dishonesty, Patterson said Thursday the question of whether the state senator avoided the draft was only one reason he would not receive his support.

"I cannot bring myself to vote for a person who has this background, who obfuscates, deflects, misrepresents, and has difficulty telling the truth," he said. "I've been on the ballot many times— I've lost and I've won. And I've never been unable to say something good about my opponent, whether my opponent was the victor or the loser.  This is the first time." 

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