When Texas Land Commissioner, Jerry Patterson stepped to the microphone at the 2012 Texas Republican Convention in Ft. Worth to talk about the Texas Solution, many felt he was committing political suicide.
Stepping out on a ledge, Patterson, a strong advocate of developing real immigration solutions, placed himself squarely on one side of this heated debate, and not the “safe” side. Rather, he joined the grass-roots activists who had been working to change the Texas Republican Party’s immigration platform, which was filled with language hindering the effort to win Hispanic votes.
Now that he’s officially announced his intention to run for Lt. Governor, his decision to weigh in on immigration, has separated him from other potential challengers, who may agree in private with resolving immigration, but are afraid to speak in public on the issue.
No other Republican elected official was willing to “risk” their political career, as Jerry Patterson did, but because he chose to help in the adoption of the Texas Solution, and stood on the convention floor with us, he has earned the respect of activists across the state.
A free-market solution, the Texas Solution acknowledges there is a major problem in America, and outlines a strategy on how to move forward, providing illegal immigrants a way to become documented (not a citizen) and live and work in America. For the first time since Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party is presenting solutions to immigration, rather than continued pieced legislation, like the Democrat’s DREAM Act.
Patterson spoke about immigration in detail, joking with the crowd, asking if they knew who the first illegal immigrants were in Texas, explaining how in the past, Mexico had closed their borders, while American settlers continued coming illegally to Texas. He told the story of Texas’ rich history with Mexico, and talked about people like Juan Seguin, and the Tejanos who died at the Battle of the Alamo.
With a deep knowledge of Texas history, Patterson’s perspective gave him credibility and confidence while discussing difficult issues. Already outspoken on immigration reform, the Land Commissioner methodically laid out the reasoning for Republicans to lead on the issue, saying, “We can’t continue to keep our heads in the sand and act like we don’t see what’s happening.”
Hispanics are going to love Jerry Patterson. Not because of his immigration position, although it certainly helps, but because he doesn’t come across as a politician. He’s a serious man, a former marine pilot (I know, once a marine, always a marine), and Texas Senator.
Famous for his phrase, “Reptile Disfunction,” which describes the federal government’s attempt to shut down drilling in West Texas due to the presence of a supposed endangered lizard, Patterson is media savvy, and great with interviews. He’s serious about protecting our 2nd Amendment, as well as maintaining state sovereignty.
Now, as Hispanics will become the majority in a few short years, the future of Texas is uncertain. Patterson is thinking about that future, concerned with our water supply and infrastructure, questioning whether we’re making the right plans, preparing for that future. It was clear he was committed to meeting those challenges head on.
In the end, those who felt Patterson was making the wrong decision to support the Texas Solution and lead on immigration are probably beginning to see the big picture. Patterson’s core beliefs and ability to relate to just about anyone, will resonate with Independent Hispanics, who are thirsty for a straight-talking, honest man in government.