Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took special jabs at fellow Republicans in a speech on Thursday, saying conservatives shouldn't go against their own party.
"When I hear people today who criticize the conservatives who have led this state for the last 15 years, it's one thing if you're on the other side of the team — but sometimes when it comes from your own team, I don't understand," he said.
Patrick didn't mention any Republicans by name while speaking at an annual policy conference hosted by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin. But in the last year Patrick has clashed publicly with Republican House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio, whose critics have painted him as a moderate holding up the conservative agenda of the state Senate that Patrick presides over.
The most high-profile of those clashes was over the legislation pushed by Patrick that became known as the "bathroom bill." Opponents of the bill, which would have restricted which bathrooms transgender Texans could use, said it would needlessly create blowback that would harm the business community. Many conservatives blame Straus for its failure.
Patrick argued in his speech that conservative policies in Texas have caused more people to move to the state and prompted business growth. But, he said, there's "so much left to do" in Texas when it comes to education, property taxes and infrastructure.
"I don't want our state to be in the hands of moderates, liberals and progressives," Patrick said. "Because if it is, we'll be California and the country will be in trouble."
"Some of these people say they want responsible Republicans," Patrick said. "A responsible Republican is a conservative Republican."
Patrick also spoke about Texas' resilience during two tragedies in 2017: Hurricane Harvey and the Sutherland Springs shooting. Calling Texas "the envy of the world," he highlighted the success Texas Republicans had during 2017 legislative session, from passing bills in the special session to maintaining the budget. And he boasted about the gun-friendly policies of the state.
"We are so much safer than Chicago. We are so much safer than Baltimore," Patrick said. "That's a conservative principle — the right to defend yourself."
Patrick is facing challenger Scott Milder in the Republican primary. Democrats Mike Collier and Michael Cooper are also running for the seat. Early voting for the March 6 primary starts on Feb. 20.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.