A political rival of Republican Dan Patrick recently released hospital records indicating the Texas lieutenant governor front-runner attempted suicide while dealing with depression in the 1980s.
When Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst went to cast his ballot for himself during early runoff voting on Monday, most of the questions from reporters were about the mental health records for his opponent, Patrick. Dewhurst denies he and his campaign had anything to do with the release of those records.
Jerry Patterson was knocked out in the four-way primary election for lieutenant governor, but in the runoff, he has waged a scorched earth campaign to oust Patrick, and like it or not, incumbent Dewhurst is caught in the crossfire.
"It's a sad tale of ego and ambition trumping telling the truth,” said Patterson. “It's not about what happened a couple decades ago; it's about today."
Patterson was behind last week's resurfacing of medical documents from a lawsuit Patrick filed in the late ‘80s. Patterson pointed to Patrick's initial response to reports of his treatment history.
"Mild depression,” said Patterson. “Checked himself in for a few days of rest and then the next day we found he actually attempted suicide on two occasions by slitting his wrist and with a drug overdose.”
Dewhust, talking to reporters as he early voted in Austin Monday, says he knew about the documents before Patterson released them and told Patterson twice not to.
“If you really feel Dan Patrick is unfit to be Lieutenant Governor of the State of Texas, don't be doing anything to confuse people and somehow indirectly hurt me,” said Dewhurst.
Patrick's campaign posted a video of himself online on Monday, but he did not address the medal history mudslinging.
His response has come on his Facebook page, where he says despite Dewhurst's assertion, "David was totally involved and knew everything that was happening."
He deemed it all "…dirty political tricks of David Dewhurst. It's the only way he knows how to campaign."
Dewhurst also said, "I have not seen a doctor or taken any medication for depression or any other mental health issue since 1987."
"At the end of the day, if this speaks to the character and the capacity to govern and lead of Dan Patrick, then I think it should be on the voter's minds,” said Dewhurst.
"If you go back in Texas history, there are some terribly nasty races that would be the equal of this,” said SMU political science professor Cal Jilson. “But we haven't really seen one like this in a long time."
Going forward, if Dan Patrick wins, it’s likely not the last time voters will hear of the mental health record. The documents will be fodder for the Democrats and their candidate, State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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