Patterson and Patrick Spar over Senator’s Lack of Military Service

Note: This story originally appeared on The Quorum Report. Join us there daily for coverage of Texas politics and government. 

jerrys top ten

Patterson handed these out to reporters on Thursday. (click to view larger)

As if the campaign to preside over the Texas Senate weren’t nasty enough, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Sen. Dan Patrick got into a war of words Thursday over exactly why Patrick did not serve overseas during the Vietnam War. Patterson, who has now formally endorsed Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the May 27 runoff for the GOP Lite Guv nomination, raised the issue during a morning news conference in which he said he would “not support a draft dodger.”

That was one of his bullet points in the “Top Ten Reasons Jerry Patterson is NOT endorsing Dan Patrick.” As Patterson explained it, Patrick should have been eligible for the draft in 1969, 1970, and 1971 and he could see no legitimate reason the Houston senator should not have served. “I’m not inclined to support a draft dodger,” he said.

To help make his case, Patterson –who is a veteran – presented reporters with document detailing how Patrick’s date of birth in 1950 should have placed him in the draft lottery at the end of the 1960’s. “I’m saying he should explain why he wasn’t drafted,” Patterson said.

Even though Patrick’s campaign had previously said they would not respond to Patterson’s endorsement of Dewhurst, they likely did not anticipate this line of attack to be part of the endorsement.

Sen. Patrick pretty quickly released a statement in which he said he had tried to serve in the military but was given a medical deferment. He also demanded that Patterson apologize.

“My family has a long tradition of military service, and I have always admired my father for his service in the United State Marine Corp,” Patrick said. “I was ready to serve my country.”

From the Patrick campaign statement:

“In 1972, after being drafted, Dan reported for a physical examination to Fort Holabird in Baltimore, Maryland. Dan was quickly determined medically ineligible to serve due to childhood injuries. Dan had broken his right leg twice due to a bone cyst and doctors thought it might cause him to lose the limb. He also had suffered a serious knee injury while playing high school sports. These injuries prevented him from being accepted into the service and he received a medical deferment.”

You may not be surprised to learn that upon hearing Patrick’s explanation and subsequent demand for an apology, Patterson was unimpressed.


Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson speaks to reporters in Austin.

“Lets see,” Patterson said, “he had a terrible childhood condition that could’ve caused him to lose his leg, but he later had an injury while playing high school ball? What was he doing playing ball with that terrible condition? I think his explanation is overly creative. Bottom line is he told the AFEES doctor he had a bad knee. Bad knees were an epidemic during the 60’s among young draft age men. I remember it well.”

Patrick is fuming.

“While I greatly appreciate the military service of both David Dewhurst and Jerry Patterson, the fact that they would attempt to smear me, and question my patriotism, is reprehensible,” Patrick said in his statement. “These men have no honor; they know no shame.”

When pressed about whether he would offer an apology, Patterson said “Yes. I apologize for waiting this long to do the press conference.”

Copyright May 08, 2014, Harvey Kronberg,, All rights are reserved. Reprinted with permission. 

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