AUSTIN (CBS 11 NEWS) – It’s one of the most heated races in Texas: The Republican primary for Lt. Governor.

A UT/Texas Tribune poll taken between February 7-17 shows incumbent David Dewhurst leading with 37 percent. State Senator Dan Patrick of Houston has 31 percent.

Todd Staples, the sitting Texas Agriculture Commissioner is a distant third with 17 percent and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson trails with 15 percent.

With four candidates in the race, each is confident he will be the one to land in a two man runoff with Dewhurst on May 27.

They’re spending big bucks on television ads, too. Records show in the past five weeks, the candidates have spent a total of $2.5 million for ads on the broadcast tv stations in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Dewhurst says he’s hoping to be re-elected one last time.

But not if Staples, Patterson, or Patrick can help it.

Patrick says, “My record has been solid, 16,000 votes. If you look at the voting records of my opponents, it’s not very solid on spending issues, border issues, go down the list.”

Staples says, “I have a consistent conservative record and actually going to Austin, doing what voters have asked me to do. I’m running for office because I’m sick and tired of politicians not listening to voters.”

Patterson says, “I’m going to be straight with you, and my story is not going to change from venue to venue, from day to day. What you see is what you get. I know how to lead.”

They’re courting Tea Party conservatives.

Border security is a top priority for most of them, including Staples, who’s based his campaign on the issue.

“As I have travelled this state, voters have come to me time and time again and they’re very concerned about Washington failing to do their duty and to secure our borders.”

Patrick also wants to boost the state’s role in securing the border, but also lists education and taxes as top priorities. “Education because we have a crisis in our inner-city schools with a 40 to 50% drop-out rate, and property taxes because people can’t afford to live in their homes in Texas, even if they pay them off.”

Patterson agrees taxes and education are top priorities, along with improving transportation, and making sure Texas has enough water. “I’m a believer in liberty, limited government, low taxation, and the ability of citizens to make choices.”

We were scheduled to interview Dewhurst Friday afternoon, but he didn’t make the trip to Dallas.

His spokesman says along with border security, Dewhurst’s priorities are keeping Texas’ economy strong and fighting back against what they call over-reaching policies of the Obama administration.

The candidates will be getting some last minute campaigning in the days and hours before Tuesday’s primary.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

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