Patrick Names 3 to Lead 2 Panels Each
as AG Wife is No Show on Chairs List
January 23, 2023
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick left the wife of Attorney General Ken Paxton out in the cold on Monday when he continued to consolidate the Texas Senate power structure with the announcement of a new leadership lineup that has three Republicans who are each chairing two committees.
Patrick's picks drew immediate praise from the Texas GOP, which said that he'd put the Senate in position to pass the party's priorities while giving him a pass in the push to eliminate Democratic committee chairs at the state Capitol. Patrick came close with no cigar when he retained Democratic State Senator John Whitmire of Houston in his role as the longtime Criminal Justice Committee chairman.
"We are grateful for the @LtGovTX being responsive to the issue of Dem chairs and reducing the number from 32% of committees to 1 during his tenure," the state party tweeted.
Patrick's selections for chairmanships were status quo for the most part with GOP State Senator Joan Huffman of Houston as the chamber's most powerful member next to Patrick in a role that she landed last year as the Finance Committee chief.
Huffman stayed on as the leader of the Special Redistricting Committee while relinquishing the controls of the Jurisprudence Committee to Republican State Senator Bryan Hughes of Mineola. Hughes will be doing double duty like Huffman with the new assignment and the job that he scored in 2021 as the State Affairs Committee chairman. GOP State Senator Brian Birdwell drew two plums as well with appointments by Patrick to the chairs of the Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee and the Border Security Committee respectively.
Patrick picked Republican State Senator Brandon Creighton of Conroe as expected to lead the Education Committee, which has the Higher Education Committee that he used to chair folded into it. GOP State Senators Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, Robert Nichols of Jacksonville and Donna Campbell of New Braunfels were reappointed as the chairs of the Health & Human Services Committee, the Transportation Committee and the Nominations Committee respectively. Patrick kept Republican State Senator Charles Perry of Lubbock in his role as the Water, Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee chairman while GOP State Senator Bob Hall of Edgewood kept the job he received last year as the Administration Committee boss.
Patrick had indicated that he'd complete the Senate roster almost a week ago. But Patrick left senators in a holding pattern for days with no apparent explanation in a way that built up the suspense on a story that was largely predictable and short on spark. The fate of GOP State Senator Charles Schwertner of Georgetown never really appeared to be in doubt outside a healthy rumor mill before Patrick retained him as the chairman of the Business & Commerce Committee that expects to handle major legislation dealing with the Texas power grid during the new regular session.
There'd been substantial conjecture in the Austin lobby and the upper chamber on the appointment of Republican State Senator Angela Paxton of McKinney to her first chairmanship. Paxton came up empty in the committee chair competition - however - with a promotion to the Finance Committee and the vice-chair post on the State Affairs Committee as consolations.
Patrick and Paxton have been widely viewed as Donald Trump's top allies in Texas. There have been no recent signs of tension between the two that would affect committee assignments. But Paxton's omission from the chairs list was conspicuous nonetheless.
Patrick refused to take the final step in a partisan purification crusade that he got under way with the busting of several Democrats from committee chairs in his first session as Senate president in 2015. Patrick turned a deaf ear to calls from the right for the elimination of Democratic chairs when he renamed State Senator John Whitmire of Houston as the Criminal Justice Committee chairman in a move that appeared to be a foregone conclusion.
The Texas GOP is attacking House Speaker Dade Phelan in an advertisement in his district for refusing to bow to demands for an all-Republican lineup when he names committee chairs in the near future. The party could be giving Patrick a pass after coming to his defense last week in a dispute among conservatives on whether the House or Senate had more blame to bear in the death of gender modification measures in 2021.
more to come ...