The final debate in the Republican lieutenant governor primary runoff election got combative as both state Sen. Dan Patrick and incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst fixated on each others' personal finance decisions and the latest round of attack ads.
Early on in the debate, which was held in Dallas and hosted by the city’s ABC affiliate, WFAA-TV, and Texas Tribune, the two candidates set the same tone that Texas voters following the race have become familiar with.
Dewhurst explained why this race has become more personal than political, with both campaigns making use of each others' life events in a string of attack ads.
"Well I think it’s important that the voters understand who David Dewhurst is and who Dan Patrick is. And I think that’s fair,” said Dewhurst of the attack ads.
The early exchanges centered around each candidate's past financial decisions, including back debts and bankruptcies. Patrick was asked by Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune if he had a moral obligation to repay his restaurant’s bankruptcy debt from the 1980s.
“You wouldn’t even, in many cases, Ross, know where to go back 10 or 20 years later, and secondly, you can’t cherry pick people and say, 'I’m going to help that guy,' " Patrick said.
Other areas of contention centered around immigration:
Dewhurst: "He has knowingly employed illegals in the past."
Patrick: "Here he goes again, folks, here he goes again. Personal attacks."
Dewhurst: "It’s a fact, It’s a fact."
And the handling of the 2013's pro-life debate that led to the signing of Texas latest abortion restrictions and elevated Democrat Wendy Davis' political career.
Patrick: "Why did you go a restaurant in the middle of the pro-life debate and meet with Rob Johnson, your political consultant, in the middle of the pro-life debate? Why did you go to the Austin Land and Cattle Company?"
Dewhurst: "Why did you go in the lounge and have dinner?"
Patrick: "It’s two steps off the floor."
Patrick was also asked to explain his online comments and why he pledged his support for Dewhurst’s 2012 U.S. Senate and re-election campaign.
WFAA's Jason Whitely: “You said May 25, 2012: 'The facts simply don’t support the charge that the lieutenant governor is a moderate.' Do you now regret those comments because you’re across the table from him this race?"
Patrick: "No, No, No, Jason. This is not about that race, I’m talking about what happened this session."
The runoff election is May 27. The winner will face Democrat Leticia Van De Putte in the November election.
Watch the debate here: