Speculation swirled around Patrick's interest in launching a Senate bid earlier this week after he lobbed harsh criticism
in the direction of Texas Lt.Gov. David Dewhurst
(R), who is widely rumored to be eyeing his own Senate run. Most political observers consider Dewhurst the favorite in the race thanks to his high name recognition and substantial personal wealth, but some conservatives in and outside the Lone Star state have expressed concern with what they view as Dewhurst's moderate record.
Patrick's entrance into the field could hurt the chances of former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz
(R) and former Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams
(R) -- the two candidates most likely to attract Tea Party support. Patrick likely would appeal to the same base of voters as Cruz and Williams.
Other Republicans in the race include former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert
(R), former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams
(R) and Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones