DALLAS The two Republican candidates for lieutenant governor both addressed equal pay in separate visits to North Texas Thursday afternoon.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst had lunch with the Republican Women of Arlington and bragged about the state's economic track record since he took office in 2003. Dewhurst also asked voters who supported Todd Staples and Jerry Patterson to join his team.

In an interview with News 8 after the event, Dewhurst was asked whether he would like to see an equal pay bill which passed last year come up in the Senate next legislative session.

'I think we've already addressed it,' he said of his chamber.

When pressed on what he would do if another bill is re-introduced next year, Dewhurst said, 'If it has the votes to go ahead and get out of committee, then we'll bring it to the floor.'

State Sen. Dan Patrick spent the afternoon raising money with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the Park Cities.

Patrick was also asked why he opposes a state law for equal pay.

'I believe women should be paid the same as a man,' Patrick said, 'but I don't believe government should enforce it. There are a lot of variables that could go into any company making a decision to pay a man or a woman a certain salary. I just don't believe government should interfere with the free market.'

Both Republican candidates will appear together for the first time on Friday in a candidates' forum in Kerrville, outside San Antonio.

They face each other in a Republican runoff on May 27.

Equal pay has become an issue in the gubernatorial race over the last couple weeks. Democratic nominee Wendy Davis supports a state law modeled after the federal Lilly Ledbetter Act, but legislation without a statute of limitations. She was the Senate sponsor of the bill that Governor Perry vetoed last year.

Republican nominee Greg Abbott told WFAA-TV's Inside Texas Politics that he supports equal pay for women, but added that existing law is sufficient.


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