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Dan Patrick loves the poor folks

He says so himself, so it must be true.

“Oozing charm from every pore I oiled my way around the floor”

State Sen. Dan Patrick told a wealthy Houston business group Thursday that he would advocate for the poor and people of color if elected lieutenant governor in November, at one point advocating compassion toward immigrants who brave dangers to cross Texas’ southern border.

The shift in tone was noteworthy coming from the Republican Houston senator and talk radio host, whose earlier rhetoric on immigration and border security often included talk of an “illegal invasion” and claims that immigrants are bringing Third World diseases into this country.

Instead, Patrick, who rode that tough talk and tea party support to a trouncing of incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a May primary runoff, pitched his education and immigration platforms as a recognition of the disadvantages that low-income Americans face.

Patrick, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, told the Houston Realty Business Coalition that the rich already have school choice, but the poor do not.

“If you’re rich enough – some of you in here, or maybe you work a second job to make it happen – send your kids to private school. And if you’re mobile enough, you move to the suburbs for better schools,” Patrick said. “We don’t have white flight in Texas – we have school flight.”

Children in inner-city schools – who Patrick said mostly are “black or brown” – are poorly represented by the Democratic Party, he said. The candidate said he would champion these families.

So he’s basically pushing vouchers, which is to say the same old shibboleth despite the utter lack of evidence that it solves any problems or serves as anything but a wealth transfer to people whose kids already attend private schools. Lisa Falkenberg takes him to task on this, and I’ll leave the heavy lifting to her. She doesn’t have the space to get into Patrick’s self-professed “compassion” for immigrants, which is pretty damn rich from a fervent supporter of “sanctuary cities” and fervent opponent of the 2001 Texas DREAM Act. There’s also his support for raising the sales tax to finance a property tax cut, which would benefit rich people like Dan Patrick at the expense of just about anyone that doesn’t own an expensive house. One could go on and one, but you get the point.

But let’s not get bogged down in details here. Let’s note instead the great humor of Patrick saying all this stuff in front of a bunch of wealthy business types, none of whom care about any of that and who were all no doubt impatiently waiting for him to get to the part where he tells them how much he’s gonna cut their taxes and all. Let’s take him at his word for a moment that he’s filled with compassion for the poor and the immigrants and that he’d like nothing more than to help them. What’s stopping him from delivering his message directly to the people that he so badly wants to help and the advocacy groups that work with the Legislature on their behalf? Instead of glad-handing a bunch of fat cats that are already in his pocket, why not address a group of low-income residents at a Neighborhoods Center or the like? Tell them you understand their concerns, listen to their stories, answer their questions, propose your solutions, and ask for their votes. It’s called “campaigning”. Patrick could have done that any time he wanted to this summer, instead of sneaking around from one tea party event to another. He could still do it now, though he’d also have to address the question of what took him so long. But hey, better late than never, right? Maybe Sen. Van de Putte can ask him about it at tomorrow night’s debate. Regardless, when he does do that, then we can talk about how genuine his “compassion” is and how seriously we ought to take his ideas. Until then, a healthy dose of skepticism and a regular serving of snark remain the recommended responses.

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