Ex-Dan Patrick Senate Ally Goes Ballistic on Governor
and Statewide Supporting Cast for Snubbing Hard Right
By Mike Hailey Capitol Inside Editor
A former Texas Senate Republican unleashed a rhetorical barrage on Governor Greg Abbott and other GOP statewide leaders at a recent speech to a tea party group where he accused them of ignoring the conservative agenda in a passive move that's allowed opportunistic ex-Democrats to run the Lone Star State.
Dallas Republican Don Huffines portrayed the state's most powerful leaders as Republicans in name only while including Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick as a target in the scorching assessment despite the fact that the Senate president had been an ally who'd contributed to the former solon's unsuccessful re-election bid in 2018.
Huffines also took aim at Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Comptroller Glenn Hegar and Land Commissioner George P. Bush in the critical review to the audience of hard-line conservatives who'd propelled him into the Legislature's upper chamber in 2014 after he ousted a powerful Republican senator in the primary election that year.
"They're nothing but RINOs," Huffines declared at the appearance early last week in a reference to the Republicans who are in control at the Capitol in Austin.
Huffines didn't reveal any plans for a potential political comeback at some point in the future after falling short in his first re-election race 15 months ago in a Dallas area district where freshman Democratic State Senator Nathan Johnson unseated in the last general election.
But Huffines could face a significant backlash from the Republican leaders who be berated and blamed for the failure of a long list of hot button measures in the 2019 regular session on topics like abortion, gun rights, border security and school choice.
Huffines directed a substantial amount of his wrath at Abbott - asserting that the Republican governor had done almost nothing to put an end to voter fraud in Texas in his current post or while serving as the state attorney general for 12 years. Huffines depicted Paxton as an idle bystander on voter fraud as well as Abbott's successor as the state's top lawyer.
Huffines suggested that the race in Senate District 16 had been stolen in 2018 based on evidence that he said he'd uncovered in the wake of the Johnson victory there. Johnson flipped the district from red to blue when he defeated Huffines by nine percentage points when rookie Democratic State Senator Beverly Powell of Burleson knocked tea party colleague Konni Burton out of the east wing of the statehouse as well.
Huffines said that he hired an attorney for a lawsuit that he'd planned to pursue to force Texas election officials to open a probe into the electoral piracy suspicions in the Dallas Senate contest. But Huffines said he dropped the case after his lawyer quit in the face of resistance from the Texas secretary of state's office that was being run at the time by an official that Abbott appointed.
Huffines threw a major curve into the speech to former supporters at the event on January 13 that the group called the True Texas Project had been sponsoring. Huffines asserted that "computer manipulation" had been the leading culprit in electoral fraud here as opposed to illegal immigrant voting that the lions share of Republicans here have cited as the most serious problem.
Huffines contended that Abbott, Patrick and the other statewide officials who he named had demonstrated their indifference on conservative issues by failing to promote or even mention the Texas Republican Party platform that delegates to the state GOP convention adopt in election years.
"You know why they don't talk about it?" Huffines said. "Because they don't believe in it."
Huffines suggested that the lack of leadership on conservative issues had made it possible for Republican elected officials who used to be Democrats to run the show at the statehouse for the past 20 years.
Patrick could find the former legislator's appraisal offensive after spending almost $23,000 on polling for the Huffines campaign a month before it crashed at the polls in 2018.
The Patrick contribution at the time came somewhat as a surprise several months after the lieutenant governor had intervened on freshman Republican State Senator Angela Paxton's behalf in a ferocious primary showdown with Phillip Huffines - a former Dallas County GOP chair who's the ex-senator's identical twin brother.
Paxton ended up beating Huffines easily in the primary vote en route to a general election victory in 2018.