A powerful Republican urged the Senate last week to strip a plum committee chairmanship from a GOP colleague who voted against the state budget, six senators said Friday.
Chief Senate budget writer Sen. Tommy Williams polled colleagues on whether they would support removing Sen. Dan Patrick as head of the Education Committee, though Williams appears to have since suspended the effort, the lawmakers said.
It’s unclear if Williams has permanently abandoned his push and if Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst condoned it, said the senators, both Republicans and Democrats.
Through a spokesman, Dewhurst, a Republican, denied late Friday that he instigated or supported the proposed ouster of Patrick.
“The lieutenant governor’s not involved in this, and he didn’t encourage it,” said Travis Considine, Dewhurst’s communications director.
Patrick said Dewhurst must have blessed Williams’ actions, at least implicitly.
“I’m much more worried about the people being unhappy with the votes I cast than a lieutenant governor,” Patrick said.
He and Dewhurst, both Houston Republicans, may collide in the party’s primary for lieutenant governor next year – after a political alliance that took just 10 months to unravel.
Williams, R-The Woodlands, has had icy relations with Patrick since the former radio talk-show host arrived in the Senate in 2007.
This year, Patrick sat on Williams’ Finance Committee. After voting for the budget at the committee and during its first trip through the full Senate, Patrick was among four conservative Republicans who opposed the final product of a House-Senate conference committee on May 25.
“They lost me on a couple of issues,” he explained.
Patrick cited a loss of funding for some of his favored education items and what he said was too profligate an approach with rainy-day dollars and with spending generally, especially when highway funding wasn’t boosted much.
Williams championed more spending on roads, only to be thwarted by conservative Republicans who wouldn’t support increasing vehicle registration fees. He was highly upset with Patrick’s vote, one senator said, adding that Williams met individually May 26 with all four senators who voted against the budget, to convey his displeasure.
See here for more on this latest outbreak of Republican-on-Republican violence. You may recall that just last year, Patrick had a high profile slap fight with Sen. John Carona. Looks like he gets to cross another name off his Christmas card list