First, the numbers:
In the second state race on the GOP primary ballot — for lieutenant governor — the UT/TT Poll found incumbent David Dewhurst in front, with 26 percent, but his rivals for the position combined for an anti-incumbent vote of 28 percent. State Sen. Dan Patrick had 13 percent, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson had 10 percent and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples had 5 percent.Then the take:
“Dewhurst has had a good month or so, and the others have not been able to get a lot of traction,” Shaw said. “A four-way race is a complicated thing. A candidate has to say, ‘Do I want to go after Dewhurst, which benefits the other two and hurts me because I went negative?’ Nobody really wants to do the dirty work of going after him, because they’ll get the damage of going negative.”Kind of makes sense to me.
That said, I'd venture that Patrick would be most likely to go negative first, then Patterson. And, if he plays staying above the fray right, Staples benefits.
Even though he's in last in polling right now, we're still far enough away from the primary that I think he can hold off on firing. Plus, isn't Patrick by nature Mr. Negative anyway?
Otherwise, Shaw is right. Two months ago, we were all talking about Dudley trying to pull rank to benefit a relative arrested by the Allen PD. But yet, he's still polling as well as all three opponents combined.
How much of that is name recognition, I don't know. Staples does have a statewide office, too. But, fewer and fewer Texans farm and ranch all the time. Ditto for Patterson; unless trying to calm numbnuts over the Alamo, or trying to get guns in Big Bend, we don't hear from him. Patrick has his talk radio, but that doesn't cover the whole state.
Anyway, this race WILL have fireworks eventually. Or even hand grenades. It's just a question of who pulls the pin first.
And, Staples actually is going negative, online, via surrogates. Right now, though, it's just against Patrick.
Don't forget, a 4-way guv race in 2006 benefited Tricky Ricky.
Per the Trib, the name recognition element is also why AG Greg Abbott is still at only about 40 percent in the latest poll for the governor's race vs. Wendy Davis. (This of course assumes Abbott wins his primary.)