As promised, state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston and incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the two remaining Republican candidates in the runoff for lieutenant governor, planned to face off for a debate, but when the debate organizers declined to allow media access, Patrick declined to participate.
The debate was scheduled to take place at Houston’s famed River Oaks Country Club, and was to be put on by the business-conscious C Club of Houston.
Since the announcement, Patrick asked the group to allow the media access into the exclusive club, but when that didn’t happen he canceled. Patrick said he appreciated the invite but statewide debates aren’t done in private.
Professor Mark Jones, who teaches political science at Rice University in Houston, said it would’ve painted a less than desirable image:
“A closed-door event at River Oaks Country Club that is restrictive to the business-elite -- that doesn’t sound like a party that is reaching out to voters throughout the state," Jones said.
Allen Blakemore, Patrick’s chief strategist, said he accepted the opportunity to debate in Houston without looking into the details.
“Because we are open to all debate opportunities and continue to make ourselves open to all debate opportunities, we’re not people who want to haggle over the rules," Blakemore said. "Honestly, the thought never occurred to me that [the debate] wouldn’t be open.”
Blakemore said there are a couple of other opportunities for a public debate between the two remaining Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, one in Dallas and another in Waco before the runoff election in May.