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May 7, 2014      1:06 PM

Dewhurst and Patrick clash in a very personal debate in Dallas

Questions of character frame the knock-down drag-out

DALLAS – Sen. Dan Patrick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst pulled no punches on Wednesday in a 45-minute televised debate that one candidate would later describe as childish. Patrick said “I think it was in the seventh grade” the last time he had heard something like a question lobbed by Dewhurst about the senator from Houston selling snake oil for his receding hairline.

Yes, that was the tone of it as the GOP candidates in the Lite Guv runoff debated things like immigration, women’s health, equal pay for women, Patrick’s name change and just what exactly Dewhurst had for dinner the night of an abortion debate in the Texas Senate.

Patrick seized on the fact Dewhurst said on Wednesday that he ate some chicken at Austin Land and Cattle while talking with his political consultant Rob Johnson on a night last summer when Democrats were unsuccessfully trying to amend abortion legislation. “Now, it’s chicken!” Patrick said, looking a bit incensed.

Dewhurst has said – and repeated in Dallas – that when he left the chamber that night to visit the steakhouse, senators were working through Democratic amendments that had no chance of adoption.

Before Wednesday’s debate even got underway, the Patrick campaign released a statement saying the incumbent had succumbed to pressure and stopped airing “offensive TV ads.” Patrick repeated that claim to reporters and his chief strategist Allen Blakemore said Dewhurst has “gone dark,” but TV contracts show Dewhurst is still airing ads.

By Scott Braddock