On March 5, Texas voters will weigh in during a primary election for what many say is the most powerful job in state politics: Texas lieutenant governor.
Four well-known Republican candidates are vying for the nomination and a chance to face off against state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, D-San Antonio.
The Republican candidates -- Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples -- share many of the same conservative views. But one of the issues driving the GOP race is immigration and securing the Texas border with Mexico.
And Patrick has begun to refer to himself as a "border champion."
On Monday, Staples released a radio ad that links border security, immigration reform and amnesty. Staples also said he had six points for securing the Texas-Mexico border.
In the ads, Staples slams politicians from both parties for what he calls Texas' porous border.
"On border security, politicians from both parties have let us down, they just won't listen to us," Staples said. "That's why I developed a six-point plan to reform our failed immigration system that starts with real border security and does not include amnesty."
Staples claims to have the strongest record on border security of any candidates in the race for lieutenant governor. According to a Staples press release:
"He stood up for Texas property owners living near the border who were being chased off their land by deadly drug cartels and challenged President Obama on numerous occasions to take action."
So why has border security become such an important issue in the race for the GOP's lieutenant governor nomination? According to results from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, invoking border security might offer a safe way to address immigration concerns without upsetting the Latino voting bloc the GOP is trying to attract.
When asked to identify the most important problem facing the state in a October 2013 poll, Texans identified border security as the second-most important issue. The most frequent response was immigration.