AUSTIN - Rhetorical guns blazing, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick Tuesday labeled critics of Republican election integrity legislation "liars" and "race baiters".
"I have news for Harris County. You are not the capitol of Texas. SB 7 is not voter suppression, it's voter security and if Beto and Castro and Turner and Hidalgo and all these other folks out their protesting with their fists in the air say that this is voter suppression, they are lying to you," said Patrick.
Senate Bill 7 would roll back pandemic-driven electoral experiments like drive-thru polling places, 24-hour voting, and expanded mail-in balloting.
Patrick says those so-called innovations, instituted without the approval of state lawmakers, have undermined faith in the Democratic process with a substantial portion of the voting population.
"The bill is needed because Americans no longer trust the system and a country where the voters do not trust the system is a country in peril," said Patrick.
The Lt. Governor lashed out repeatedly at Ft. Worth based American Airlines for its high profile opposition to SB 7.
"Let me tell you what Mr. American Airlines, I take it personally. You are questioning my integrity, and the integrity of the Governor, and the 18 Republicans who voted for this when you suggest we are trying to suppress the vote, you are in essence, between the lines, calling us racists and that will not stand!" said Patrick.
In response, Democrat candidate for Lt. Governor Mike Collier contends Patrick is driven by fear of losing power.
"I think it's corrupt. The Dan Patrick's of the world are very afraid that people are going to vote against them and the only way to prevent that is to suppress the vote," said Collier.
And the leadership of Houston's NAACP says it's calling on all major Texas Corporations to join the campaign against SB 7.
"We expect all leaders, business leaders, corporate leaders, faith leaders, civic leaders who understand what's going on to speak up and speak out about it," said Dr. James Dixon, President of NAACP Houston.
Patrick also had a message for those who run Texas companies.
"I'm not a big believer in boycotts, but people will make up their own minds. Stay out of things you don't know anything about and if you want to get involved, then you are taking that risk," said Patrick.
Patrick repeatedly asserted SB 7 does not reduce access to voting and actually extends the hours polling places can remain open from the pre-pandemic standard of 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. if the measure is approved and signed into law.