The quiet race to be the next lieutenant governor of Texas spilled into a nasty email exchange between two senators with aspirations for that post.
In an email apparently sent to all of his Senate colleagues — and obtained and published by a political news website, the Quorum Report — Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, accused Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, of spreading rumors that Patrick and his wife were splitting after decades of marriage.
“I was in Dallas last week and learned that Senator Carona has told people outside the Senate that Jan and I are separated and may get divorced,” Patrick wrote. “He added in a few other negative comments about me in an obvious attempt by him to discredit me for some reason. He can say anything he wants to about me, but saying that Jan and I are separated and may get a divorce is not fair to her or my family.”
When that went public, Carona responded with an angry denial that he had been spreading rumors — a denial that floated gossip about Patrick’s sexual orientation and Carona’s opinion of his colleague.
“Call me cynical, but I believe your motivation for pulling this stunt centers around your paranoia over the 2014 Lt. Governor’s Race (for which you appear to have declared candidacy) and your concern that no other Senate Republican emerge as a threat to your ambitions,” Carona wrote. “As you know, if you truly believed I had said something unflattering, you could have simply asked. I’ve never been shy about sharing my dislike and distrust of you. Put bluntly, I believe you are a snake oil salesman; a narcissist that would say anything to draw attention to himself.”
Neither senator was immediately available for comment this morning.
I’ll bet. Two things to note here. One is that Carona is seeking the position as interim Lite Guv in the event David Dewhurst wins his election to the US Senate this fall. As was the case in 2001 when then-Lite Guv Rick Perry moved up to the Governor’s Mansion and was succeeded for a session by Sen. Bill Ratliff, Dewhurst’s successor for 2013 would be chosen by the Senators themselves. Patrick, who is reportedly running for Lite Guv in 2014 but is not seeking that interim job, would nonetheless likely be backing someone more in tune with his slash-and-burn style, such as Troy Fraser, for the post. It’s obviously more personal than that, but at some level it’s basically a political fight.
And two, Patrick’s original email claimed that a fellow Senator had told him about these things Carona was allegedly saying about him. This prompted a reply from Sen. Judith Zaffirini asking Patrick to name his source. I have a feeling Patrick is not going to comply with that request.
Anyway. This may be little more than a passing diversion, or it may be as Harvey Kronberg puts it something that has “probable implications into the next session and beyond”. Either way, there’s nothing like a good political catfight to stoke one’s hunger for popcorn. Enjoy it while it lasts. Burka has more.