By Carl Parker
For the Record 

Lieutenant governors of Texas

 

Last updated 6/21/2022 at 10:55am

The constitution grants very little power to the lieutenant governor of Texas. The misconception concerning the power of the position comes from the fact that for traditionally the Senate has armed the lieutenant governor with the authority not only to preside but to name committees and committee chairs.

A notable Southeast Texan became governor when Governor Beauford Jester died. That lieutenant governor was Allan Shivers who had previously been state senator from Port Arthur. Another notable lieutenant governor who became governor as a result of a governor no longer being governor was Rick Perry. Perry became governor when George W. Bush was elected as president of the United States. Perry went on to be the longest serving governor in Texas history.

There is considerable talk among political experts the lieutenant governor, at least while the Legislature is in session, is the most powerful politician in the state. To some degree this is a misconception. The lieutenant governor, often considered by many to be a part of the Texas Senate, is really a part of the executive branch of government in Texas. The lieutenant governor has authority under the constitution as the presiding officer of the Senate to rule on parliamentary inquiries and objections or points of order during the time the Senate is in session; the power is not based on any constitutional authority but rather on the rules of the Senate. Traditionally, under its rules the Senate provided the lieutenant governor authority to choose committees, committee chairs and a wide range of authority to refer bills to whichever committee he/she chooses. This, in fact, gives the lieutenant governor immense control over legislation.


For many years the Texas Senate retained a great deal of power because of the Senate rules requiring a 2/3 vote before any bill could be considered on the floor. The current lieutenant governor found this too restrictive to suit his political ambitions and pressured the Senate into reducing that number so that only a simple majority of the Senate can vote to consider any legislation scheduled.

The current lieutenant governor is Dan Patrick. Dan Patrick who was born as Dannie Scott Goeb from Baltimore came to Texas and was very unsuccessful in his pursuit of business. After two bankruptcies he became a talk show host and leaning very far to the right. Goeb changed his name to Dan Patrick and ran for the Texas Senate and was elected. After a short term as state senator from Houston, Patrick defeated the incumbent lieutenant governor and presides there today. Patrick is known as a far rights wing supporter of Donald Trump and espouses many controversial far right programs. He is expected to win re-election in the coming November election primarily due to name identification and a huge war chest he has garnered through fund raisers while he has been presiding officer of the Texas Senate.

 

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