breaking news

UT announces settlement amount in Bev Kearney discrimination case

After standing up biz group, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick lobs bombs their way


Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick backed out of a speaking engagement with the center-right Texas Association of Business.

Instead, in a speech to a conservative think tank, Patrick criticized the business group without naming it.

The Texas Association of Business said Patrick cited an unexplained scheduling conflict when backing out.

In a speech to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank in line with his brand of GOP politics, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Thursday quoted the Bible, accused liberals of trying to turn Texas into California and joked that environmentalists have got Republicans all wrong.

“Republicans and conservatives love the environment,” he said. “We love clean water, so we can find the fish. We love clean air so we can spot the birds when they come by, load the shotgun.”

As he did for years on his talk radio show, Patrick was preaching to the choir, and he was enjoying it.

Although Patrick said little that he hadn’t said before, Thursday’s speech was notable in part because of a speech scheduled for Friday that didn’t end up happening.

Three weeks ago, the Texas Association of Business, which backs establishment Republicans and last year went to war with Patrick over his so-called bathroom bill, described Patrick as “the preeminent voice for principled conservative policies” and announced he would speak at its annual conference.

The prospect of Patrick speaking before the respective brain trusts of the Texas GOP’s warring factions in consecutive days had Austin political observers raising their eyebrows. Would he take his anti-establishment fight straight to the establishment? Or would he strike a conciliatory tone and try to broaden his appeal?

Patrick then backed out of the business association speech, citing scheduling conflicts.

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

“We do not know why his schedule changed but we look forward to another opportunity to host him soon,” Texas Association of Business spokeswoman Amanda Abbott said in a statement. “The door is always open to the Lieutenant Governor and all of our elected officials to address the members of TAB.”

Patrick’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The business group wasn’t far from his mind when he spoke before the tea party-aligned crowd Thursday.

“Just because a business group has a business title in front of them does not necessarily mean they’re being run by conservative Republicans,” he said to applause.

In the speech, Patrick did not specifically mention Senate Bill 6, which would have prohibited transgender Texans from using the restrooms of their choice, but his meaning was clear.

During last year’s legislative sessions, when the more moderate House flushed the bathroom bill, the Texas Association of Business and other groups argued that it would hurt the economy by driving away big events and businesses leery of appearing supportive of discriminatory laws. Businesses love Texas, Patrick said, because of its low taxes and light regulatory touch, not because it sides with policies favored by urban liberals.

“There’s a new term going around. It’s called — some people want to elect a ‘responsible Republican.’ Have you heard that?” Patrick said at the beginning of his speech. “A responsible Republican is a conservative Republican.”

The term is usually invoked to differentiate traditional Republicans from insurgent social conservatives like Patrick, who draws his support from evangelical Christians and often clashes with the business lobby. Patrick made clear Thursday that he considered them the same as Democrats.

“I don’t want our state to be in the hands of moderates, liberals and progressives because if it is, we’ll be California and the country will be in trouble,” he said.

Patrick vowed at the end of the August special session, which was prompted primarily by his insistence on passing the bathroom bill and a separate property tax measure, that Republicans who opposed those measures would hear about it in the March 6 primaries. Patrick, however, hasn’t pressed the issue in recent months, and it has been largely absent from the GOP contests unfolding now.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Leadership changes at Texas environmental agency
Leadership changes at Texas environmental agency

In a shifting of chairs atop the state environmental agency, a governor-appointed commissioner will now lead the agency staff and a new commissioner will take his spot. The Texas Commission Environmental Quality announced Monday that Toby Baker, who had been appointed as commissioner by then-governor Rick Perry in April 2012, is stepping down to become...
A&M toughens sexual misconduct rules for faculty, staff, students
A&M toughens sexual misconduct rules for faculty, staff, students

The Texas A&M University System announced tougher sanctions Monday, including mandatory expulsion and dismissal in some cases, for students, faculty members and staff members who engage in sexual misconduct. The new rules relate to Title IX, the federal law barring sex discrimination and sexual misconduct at schools receiving federal funds, and are...
Two baaaaad goats delay New York City train service
Two baaaaad goats delay New York City train service

Ewe won’t believe this, but New York City commuters were treated to the sight of two goats on the loose on outdoor railroad tracks Monday morning, The New York Daily News reported. >> Read more trending news  “A new one for us (we think),” NYC Transit tweeted shortly before 11:30 a.m. The goats delayed commuter...
Pete Davidson pulled over, friend arrested and charged with drug possession
Pete Davidson pulled over, friend arrested and charged with drug possession

Pete Davidson and a friend recently had a run-in with the law. According to an arrest report obtained by PEOPLE, Davidson’s friend and fellow comedian Joey Gay was arrested on Aug. 11 in the town of Fayetteville, New York, at around 4:25 a.m. Gay, 47, was charged with possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree and cited with unlawful...
Man, 72, angered by loud music waves gun at high school dance
Man, 72, angered by loud music waves gun at high school dance

A 72-year-old Arizona man is accused of bringing a gun to a high school dance because he was upset about the loud music, KNXV reported. >> Read more trending news  Robert Layton was arrested Friday night after he appeared at the dance in the parking lot of Thatcher High School, where 150 students had assembled, and waved a 9mm handgun...
More Stories