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Quorum Report Daily Buzz

January 27, 2014      4:34 PM


Will business interests place their bets differently after tonight?

After more joint appearances in front of local crowds than almost anyone can count, the four candidates for Lieutenant Governor will meet tonight in their first statewide televised debate. It's anyone's guess as to exactly how this will play out, but some of their past untelevised performances offer some clues. The lay of the land in the race also means there are certain objectives each of the candidates will – or at least should – have in mind as they take the stage at 8pm for a broadcast emanating from KERA in Dallas and carried live on public TV across Texas.

In many of the forums so far, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has been the first out of the gate to ruffle the feathers of Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, who has moved the race to the right with his hardline rhetoric on immigration and others issues including the budget. Staples has had solid performances, but just like Patterson has lagged behind Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Sen. Patrick in the polls.

"Staples and Patterson will be going after Patrick, for sure,” said Rice University Political Science Chair Mark Jones. "Patterson has the least to lose by engaging in the risky strategy of going after Patrick,” he said. Jones also said Dewhurst, as the incumbent, will simply work to avoid mistakes during the exchange tonight.

The biggest question, perhaps, is whether the performances of the three candidates other than Sen. Patrick will convince establishment Republicans that they need to place their bets differently from how they have thus far.

By Scott Braddock