Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst reiterated Monday that his campaign was not responsible for the release of GOP runoff opponent Dan Patrick’s medical records, though the incumbent stopped short of saying information in the records was completely irrelevant.
"If this speaks to the character and the capacity to govern and lead of Dan Patrick, then I think it should be on the voters' minds," Dewhurst said of details about Patrick's mental health history from court records that surfaced last week. "If it doesn’t, then it shouldn’t."
Dewhurst made his remarks to reporters in Austin before he cast his ballot during early voting.
The documents — which were distributed to news outlets by Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a former candidate in the race who has now endorsed Dewhurst — showed Patrick was diagnosed as having a chemical imbalance and hospitalized at two different Houston facilities in the early 1980s.
Asked whether he thought Patrick had mental health issues that would interfere with his ability to lead as lieutenant governor, Dewhurst said only that he believed his own record presented a contrast with Patrick's in character and temperament.
Dewhurst also emphasized that his campaign was "absolutely not" responsible for the "discovery or the release" of the documents.
"I haven’t read one page of the documents," he said.
An email sent to a list of reporters from Patterson on Friday suggested a political operative with connections to the Dewhurst campaign was involved in discussions about whether to use the documents. Patrick has also linked Dewhurst to Patterson for making the documents public, saying they had "achieved a new low" in their negative attacks against him.
"David Dewhurst and his attack dog Jerry Patterson have sunk deeper into the mire, lowering themselves further into the gutter," he said in a statement after the information became public.
Dewhurst said Monday he told Patterson that he "didn't want any part of it" when Patterson alerted him to the contents of a deposition taken during a slander lawsuit Patrick brought against a reporter at the now-closed Houston Post.
"First of all, don’t be sending anything out unless you are sure in your heart it's relevant today just like it was then," Dewhurst said he told Patterson. "And secondly, if you really feel that Dan Patrick is unfit to be lieutenant governor of the state of Texas, don’t be doing anything that might confuse people and somehow indirectly hurt me."
When asked about several Republican senators who have denounced the use of Patrick's medical history as a campaign issue, Dewhurst said Patrick himself was responsible for making the information public because he had signed a waiver when he filed the lawsuit to seek damages for mental anguish.
In an interview Monday, Patterson said he remembered speaking with Dewhurst, who told him that he thought distributing the documents was "counterproductive."
"I think the Dewhurst campaign is timid and I’m not," he said.