There's not a whole lot of daylight between the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor. All check the requisite conservative boxes on guns, abortion, immigration, healthcare, evolution, school choice, the size of government and so on.
That said, GOP voters still have a choice for the March 4 primary. They can choose a crazy person (e.g. State Senator Dan Patrick and, to a lesser extent, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples), or they can pick a seemingly rational human being (e.g. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson).
Patterson is the only candidate who, during debates and campaign stops and interviews, consistently exhibits a capacity for reason and an understanding that Tea Party demagoguery has been getting dangerously overheated.
Take the current round of stories on Patrick's talk of an "invasion" of Texas by illegal immigrants, which is fast alienating Hispanic Republicans. Patterson is the counterweight, cautioning against a headlong into unrestrained xenophobia.
"When all you are doing is slamming immigrants whether they are legal or illegal, who primarily are Hispanic, then they only hear part of the story," he tells the Texas Tribune. "They don't hear that the Republican Party is not going to deport Grandma. They just hear that you are slamming immigrants, and they just hear that in the large sense, not just the illegals, but those who are here legally."
He was also the guy who diverged from his competitors by advocating against repealing the 17th Amendment, which allows for the direct election of U.S. Senators and expressed at least a degree of moral uncertainty when asked to weigh in on the case of Marlise Munoz, the brain-dead-and-pregnant Tarrant County woman recently removed from life support.
He also took a bold stand against a (transparently false) rumor that spread last year, assuring Texas that, no, the Alamo is not falling under United Nations control.
Being the sanest person in the institute for the hopelessly deranged that is the Texas lieutenant governor's race is, of course, a minor accomplishment. But if the two-decade-old pattern holds, and Texas keeps electing Republicans to statewide office, it should be someone self-aware to deliver remarks like this:
"What the Republicans don't realize right now is that we are where the Democrats were when they lost it 25 years ago. We have become so insular and we have reached the point where the other party is not competitive. So we don't worry about November, which is dangerous. It really is."
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.