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Lt. Gov. Candidates Appeal to Media at Broadcasters Meeting

Jennifer Whitney / Michael Stravato / Texas Tribune
State Sens. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Dan Patrick, R-Houston, will face off against each other in the general election for lieutenant governor.

State Senators Dan Patrick and Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic and Republican  candidates for Lieutenant Governor, spoke yesterday at the Texas Association of Broadcasters' annual convention here in Austin.

The two had similar talking points – both touted their business-friendly credentials. But they didn’t meet, and one candidate implored media leaders to push the other into agreeing to debates ahead of the November election.

Sen. Van de Putte was first to speak. She implored the group to cover the issues in the race, and even asked for a little help in getting her opponent to agree to a series of debates.

“I have proposed a very aggressive five-city debate schedule, maybe another three cities,” she said. “Because I think people deserve to know the issues that are more than just a sound bite, or more than I could just put up on my website.”

But Van de Putte also wanted to make sure the people in the room knew her stance on several business issues. If the Democrat is going to make in-roads with business Republicans, she’ll need to make sure she’s seen as a safe landing spot for those voters who don’t make their ballot decisions based on social issues.

“I’ve always been an investment gal. I’m a pro-business Democrat and have never made any apologies about it,” Van de Putte said. “Sometimes I anger even some of my closest friends. But you do what’s right for Texas, you put Texas first, and that’s how we remain strong.”

When it was Sen. Patrick’s turn with the crowd of radio and TV broadcasters, he spent most of his time talking about his career in TV and radio. Patrick is a long-time talk radio host in Houston. He even mused about how cool he thought it would be if "an old time disc jockey" was elected Lieutenant Governor.

But he did quickly rattle off his own campaign issues, starting by refuting the notion that anyone else in the race was the pro-business candidate.

“At the end of the day I think we will have, if not all, but most of the major business endorsements in this state. Twice, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which represents thousands of small business owners, named me their number one senator ... So, the record is clear. I’m the pro-business candidate in this election.”

Patrick also took a few moments to discuss immigration, the topic he’s become famous (and infamous) for. He didn’t use any of the fiery rhetoric that defined him as a Republican primary candidate. He instead framed his push for border security and federal immigration reform as a way to protect those trying to come to the United States.

“We’re a nation of immigrants; we’re not anti-Hispanic, we’re not anti-immigrant, we’re not anti-anybody,” Patrick said. “But we want people to come here in dignity. No country should have a policy where you have to come to the country in the back of an 18-wheeler, where you have to swim across the river, where you have to hide in the shadows.”

The two candidates left the event as they had arrived, separate and without seeing the other in person. Van de Putte’s campaign says they haven’t heard a response from Patrick on their five debate proposal. Patrick’s campaign says they’re still in negotiation.

Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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