Big debate on tap

Posted by John Kanelis on

Political junkies might want to clear the decks Monday night and watch two capable politicians argue on their own behalf as to why Texans should elect one of them as the state's next lieutenant governor.

The Texas Tribune is playing host to a debate that airs at 7 p.m. on Panhandle PBS. The contestants are state Sens. Dan Patrick, R-Houston and Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio. They'll be squaring off at KLRU-TV, the public television station based in Austin.

This could be so very interesting.

Patrick defeated the incumbent lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, in a hard-fought Republican primary and runoff. Van de Putte had a much easier path to the Democratic nomination.

They're both seasoned politicians. They serve together in the Texas Senate. They both proclaim their love of Texas. They also have widely different visions of how they intend to lead the Senate.

Patrick wants to eliminate the DREAM Act, which allows undocument immigrants who came here as children to enroll as in-state students at Texas public colleges and universities; Van de Putte opposes that view. Van de Putte wants to dip into the state's Rainy Day Fund to pay for scholarships for inbound college students; Patrick opposes that notion. Patrick wants to eliminate the two-thirds rule in the Senate, which requires that two-thirds of senators approve of a bill before it goes to a vote; Van de Putte wants to keep the rule.

That's just a brief sample of the differences Panhandle PBS viewers will see and hear when they watch these two politicians square off.

It's been said the lieutenant governor is the most powerful office in Texas, given that the individual presides over the Senate and controls the flow of legislation.

Therefore, this debate is worth watching. We're getting a new Senate leader. The discussion ought to be lively and -- I hope -- informative in a constructive sort of way.

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