Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is now feuding with another major GOP donor over gun laws.
Patrick first found himself at odds with the NRA earlier this month when he called for background checks for private stranger-to-stranger sales.
The leader of a major Conservative political action committee and Patrick got into it on social media on Tuesday.
It came as a surprise to some when the staunchly conservative Patrick first picked a fight with the NRA. He’s now doing the same with the conservative group, Empower Texans.
The ordeal creates the risk of a divide as Republicans try to maintain a strong grip on the legislature in 2020.
Patrick's new stance on background checks has him fighting with the very people who used to fill his campaign coffers. At first, it was the NRA.
“There is no need for a stranger to sell another gun to a stranger,” Patrick said in a previous interview. “That's irresponsible, and the NRA needs to get behind that.”
In the wake of Patrick's call for background checks, Michael Quinn Sullivan — a Conservative activist and leader of the Empower Texans — wrote Tuesday on Twitter: “Whether it is Beto O’Rourke wanting to outright seize your firearms, or Dan Patrick trying to manage what you do with them, it is sadly evident too many politicians are all too willing to betray our Constitution in the name of their own political power.”
“You know my plan exempts family and friends, so apparently you are fine with selling your guns to total strangers who can’t pass a background check because they could be a violent felon or someone bent on mass violence,” Patrick responded. “BTW, release the tape. You are destroying our party."
The lieutenant governor was referencing an alleged audiotape Sullivan secretly recorded between him and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen in which Bonnen apologized for negative remarks about fellow lawmakers.
SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson says Patrick's fights with the NRA and Empower Texans could be risky, but only to a small extent.
“I think he deeply resents the role Empower Texans has played in airing the party's dirty laundry,” Wilson said. “Alienating donors can always be disruptive. It could potentially deprive the party of some needed resources in 2020. But the reality is anyone who supports Conservative causes and a Conservative agenda has to vastly prefer Republican control of government in Texas than Democrat control.”
That said, Republican infighting could pose problems for the party as it tries to maintain legislative control in 2020.
“If the party is internally divided and if more conservative and more moderate members of the party don't trust each other and are pitted against each other, that makes the process of governing in Austin, as well as running a campaign in 2020, all that more challenging,” Wilson said.
Patrick is still making plenty of arguments for less gun control. He has called Beto O’Rourke's plan for a mandatory AR-15 buyback “gun confiscation” and called him a “radical looney leftist.”