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RECAP: From Immigration To Marijuana, Lieutenant Governor Candidates Sound Off

Welcome to KERA's Texas Debates blog. Did you miss parts of tonight's debate featuring the four Republicans running for lieutenant governor? Or do you just want to watch the whole thing again?

The hour-long debate, moderated by KERA’s Shelley Kofler, aired live at 8 p.m. from the KERA studios in Dallas. You can watch the replay below. We live-blogged the debate -- scroll down to read a minute-by-minute account of the candidates' remarks.

The four candidates are Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the incumbent; State Sen. Dan Patrick; Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson; and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. Catch up on the candidates and the issues.

Send questions, comments and observations via Twitter @keranews using the hashtag #texasdebates.



Note: At times, we paraphrased what the candidates said. At other times, we quoted word for word from their remarks.

8:57 p.m. Closing comments

Dewhurst: There's big difference between being your lieutenant governor and wanting to be your lieutenant governor. We have proven we will shut down the border. I got a pro-life bill passed. I am flattered that my challengers are all talking about things they want to do that we have been doing in the last several years. I’m an unashamed conservative. And I don’t compromise my conservative values. I’ve been proud to grow and lead. Making Texas No. 1 in jobs.

Patterson: I’ll make a promise to the voters. I’m going to be straight with you. My story, my answer will be the same. … We heard tonight that we all essentially agree on no amnesty. Can’t deport millions of illegal immigrants.

Patrick: It’s been said the establishment doesn’t want me to be elected. The Democrats don’t want me elected because I said I won’t appoint half the Democrats to chair committees. Senate needs an authentic leader. Going toe-to-toe with TSA and Obama administration. If you want a conservative leader who is going to complete the agenda, pass school choice, fund transportation on as-you-go basis.

Staples: I am sick and tired of politicians not listening to voters like you and me. Fighting for Texans. Fought for land-owners. Fought for tax cuts to help Texas lead with job growth. Fought for traditional family values, fought against EPA. If you want a fighter, I’ll deliver real results.

8:54 p.m. Term limits: Yes or no?

Patrick: Too many politicians have been there too long.

Dewhurst: Ought to have term limits on all sorts of politicians.

Staples: Politicians are a lot like socks and they need to be changed on a regular basis. He tells Dewhurst: It rings hollow that you’re for term limits when you’re asking for yet another term.

Patterson: California has term limits. How is that working out? Term limits will empower – but not voters. Will empower bureaucracy, staff, etc. I trust the voters. I do not trust the premise that voters are irresponsible. They will vote out candidates.

8:50 p.m.: Does creationism belong in schools? Would you like to see creationism in textbooks?

Patterson: Creationism, intelligent design, evolution should be taught in school. Our students should be armed with knowledge about creationism, intelligent design, evolution. Let the parents and ministers decide what should prevail in child’s life. … Comparative religion – kids ought to learn about other religions. So they feel more comfortable with their own. … Should be tolerant.

Staples: Don’t need to apologize for being a Christian. Creationism can be taught in our schools. It is something most Texans believe in. … Pay good teachers more. Lt. Gov Dewhurst is the first lieutenant governor to have a personal security detail. … We should expose kids to creationism. … We have many needs in our schools. We should end culture of teaching to the test. … Shouldn’t just throw money at education. To Dewhurst, he said: Your loss to Ted Cruz says you’re out of touch.

Patrick: We teach kids in church on Sunday about Jesus. On school, on Monday, they can’t talk about Jesus. They must be confused. We have yielded to secular left. I believe we’ve been blessed by God as a nation. When it comes to creationism, not only should it be taught, it should be triumphed, it should be heralded. Brought Christmas back into school; tired of “winter holidays.” … We have a crisis in our inner-city with dropout rates. We must have school choice. It is the hub of the wheel. We have no future in Texas if we don’t have an educated workforce. School choice would improve inner-city education.

Dewhurst: I believe in creationism but I understand it alone cannot be taught. And I am fine with teaching creationism, intelligent design, evolution. Let students, with advice and counsel, decide for themselves which one they believe in. All three should be taught. As far as public education system, I am proud of improving public education over the years. Proud of passing a landmark school finance bill in 2006 – we put a record amount of new funds in. … I want to see merit pay. … Intelligent design, creationism and evolution should all be taught. We reduced teaching to the test.

8:42 p.m.: Support legalization of marijuana?

Dewhurst: Would not legalize marijuana. Get people who have addictions well and not addicted.

Staples: Would not legalize recreational use. We need to be smart on enforcing laws. Need to make sure we have programs in place to deal with perpetual violators of our law. Do not need to lower our standards or allow what is happening elsewhere in the country to happen in Texas. We support local law enforcement and as lieutenant governor I would uphold the laws of the land.

Patrick: A nonstarter for me. I couldn’t believe the president of the U.S. would interject in the parenting of our children to say it’s OK to use marijuana.

Patterson: Federal government should not be involved in criminal justice. It is a state issue. I do agree with Gov. Perry – it is Texas’ decision to make. Do not support legalizing recreational use. Medicinal uses, we should consider that. We should not go back to the ’60s where if one kid had a joint it’s a felony. … FDA would administer it. We have medical barbiturates. We have medical codeine.

8:34 p.m. Should a woman choose an abortion in case of rape or incest? And what can the state do to help low-income women who are pregnant?

Staples: As a society we need to promote the culture of life. Adoption should be considered. We need to help mothers in that situation. We need to make certain they have access to medical care. … Texas should be proud that we have faith-based groups that provide living alternatives and pregnancy help centers. A specific amount of money should be set aside. Look to businesses to provide the money.

Dewhurst: I’m strongly pro-life. Life of mother has to be protected. But I have a problem with abortion being used as a birth control method. If my wife is pregnant, her life was at risk, I would want to make sure that she is protected. … In 2007, passed a law that allow nurse practitioners to help women and babies.

Patterson: Either it’s life or it’s not. A child of a rape isn’t inferior to another child. It’s either a life or it isn’t life. Don’t want an exception for rape or incest. … Need to take a look at family code and make it easier for children to be adopted. There are mothers who would gladly give up their child for adoption, but it’s cumbersome. Re: funding for poor moms: I can’t give you an [amount].  … See what we can do to dampen the desperation that young mothers have and giving them alternatives.

Patrick: It is a life. ... You don’t check those values and beliefs at the door. Only exception is for life is truly in danger. You always protect life in every situation. Provide money for low-income women. Do whatever it takes to protect life – even raise money from businesses.

8:28 p.m.: Questions asked to various candidates.

Staples is asked about his consistency on his voting record on immigration.

Staples:  I voted for in-state tuition but it was based on two factors: students would correct status and based on assumption that government would secure the border. Re: 2/3 rule. It worked well for a long time in Texas. We can eliminate 2/3 rule and replace it with 60 percent threshold. We should repeal the 2/3 rule.

Patterson is asked about whether people who are in office should draw pensions.

Patterson: Can’t live on $600 a month, what the job would pay.  State should allow officeholders to take pension.

Patterson is asked about handgun laws.

Patterson: One venue that I believe handguns shouldn’t be there is a bar. Private property premise holders should have a right to tell people you can’t come on my property. But in public venues – it’s nothing to fear for those who have passed a background check. … This is about liberty. … A citizen who can’t carry a firearm isn’t that much of a citizen.

8:22 p.m.: Dewhurst is asked: What to say to those who question your leadership – in particular your phone call to Allen police to get a relative out of jail?

Dewhurst: I’m a strong conservative leader. What kind of man wouldn’t call when your family would call you late at night. What kind of man would inquire about how you post bond. I wouldn’t like that type of man who wouldn’t call your family.

Another question for Dewhurst: What about his political future?

Dewhurst says: I wouldn’t be running unless I was eager to run for this job.

Patrick is asked: You walked away from more than $800,000 in debts – haven’t repaid bankruptcy debts. Did you have a moral obligation to repay one developer in particular?

Patrick says: I’m an entrepreneur. In the '80s a lot of people failed. We don’t have a debtor’s prison in America. But we do have bankruptcy court that allows you to get on your own two feet. I’m proud of what we have accomplished. … That was 30 years ago. … Those were the laws. I declared bankruptcy. He said he failed but got a chance to succeed again. … I followed the law. It was very tough. It’s tough when you lose everything you have. You give up everything. We have recovered.

Follow-up question for Patrick: If someone owned you $300,000 wouldn’t you want people to repay debt?

Patrick: If they declared bankruptcy, we move on.

8:16 p.m.: Candidates are asked about border security and what they would do about those who are in the country illegally.

Patrick: Until you secure the border, you really can’t address the other issues. If you don’t’ secure the border, the federal government won’t do anything. Stop the invasion.

Patterson: We have to do something. Would you rather have the border patrol chasing wait staff or coyotes and narco traffickers? Need to focus on criminals. Address wait staff and others separately.

Dewhurst: Sooner rather than later we have to address the undocumented. But we have to secure the border. We can shut down the border this year simply by the governor and speaker joining in legislature and appropriating funds.

Staples: Throwing money at the problem is not going to secure the border. That’ why we’ve developed … we talk border security I’ve taken budget savings from my agency and given to department of public safety. Operation drawbridge has been responsible for apprehending thousands of individuals.

8:10 p.m. Candidates are asked about Marlise Munoz, the brain-dead pregnant woman who attracted international attention. She was removed from life support on Sunday after a legal battle.

Patterson: It’s a tragic situation – brings up right of life concerns and when does life end. Law is conflicting. When you’re brain dead, you’re dead under Texas law. 20 weeks is the standard by which terminating pregnancy. A person under the law is brain dead and in my view we should always air on the side of life. In this case there was an unborn child which was past the 20-week statutory limit on abortions. I’m not sure who was the right case. But would always air on the side of life. I’m  not sure what happened was right in the final analysis.

Patrick: Life is precious.  Life of the baby in the womb. Regardless of the circumstances regarding that life we should always do everything to protect that life. I appreciate the hospital fighting to preserve that life and save that life. It is very clear from my record passing the sonogram bill. … a strong pro-life senator. I believe the court made the wrong decision.

Staples: What the Munoz family had to face and it’s unthinkable for most families. There was life and I think it’s the responsibility of us as a society to have laws and regulations that encourage life and protects life. … In the next legislative session well have to clarify the meaning of the statute.

Dewhurst: Case was decided wrong. This baby could have been born and so I think it was decided wrong. I have always decided with the side of life.

8:02 p.m. Candidates and panelists have been introduced.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.