The Best and Worst Legislators 2013

THE WORST: Senator Dan Patrick


Bob Daemmrich

There are few types of lawmakers less helpful to the legislative process than bullies and ideologues. Unfortunately, Dan Patrick too often seemed to be both in his first session as the chair of the Senate Education Committee. The Houston radio host fell into a habit of lecturing his fellow legislators, interrupting witnesses, and accusing those who disagreed with him of simply not understanding his bills. In short, he ran his committee like he runs his talk show, where the only opinion that really matters is his own. 

Consider an early exchange with Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. “I just want to be on the record that we have not stepped back in rigor,” Patrick told him during a hearing on his bill to drop the number of end-of-course exams from fifteen to five and overhaul graduation requirements. “Mr. Chairman,” Williams politely said, “allow me to respectfully disagree.” But before he could continue, Patrick pounced: “Well, excuse me, Commissioner, that’s what the bill is. How can you disagree?” This behavior might win radio listeners, but it doesn’t work in the Senate. 

Patrick clearly dreams big and works hard, but his high regard for his own efforts and his flair for the overdramatic often backfired. As one Republican insider put it, “At some point the other members got tired of his ‘noble causes’ and Jimmy Swaggart tearful moments.” At the session’s outset, Patrick dubbed school choice—another of his major priorities—“the civil rights issue of our time.” Fine, but during a March committee hearing, he also tried to argue that keeping homeschooled and private school students from competing in the University Interscholastic League was tantamount to excluding blacks from such sporting events in the pre–civil rights era. Patrick did enjoy some victories this session, including the bipartisan passage of his charter school bill and the controversial decision to dismantle CSCOPE, the curriculum-management tool that he insisted had an anti-American bias and was “shrouded in secrecy.” But Patrick’s stance on transparency wasn’t consistent: he made the audacious—and ultimately unsuccessful—attempt to have Republican senator Kel Seliger’s “dark money” bill, which would have required politically involved 501(c)(4) nonprofits to disclose their donors, recalled from the House one day after he had voted for it. 

Did Patrick learn any lessons from his behavior? Not at all—he’s considering a run for lieutenant governor in 2014, which means his demagoguing has only just begun.

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  • Johnny MacDonald

    You’re a fricking nut crwre…He is a crook and has stolen his employees payroll taxes, he has had 28 tax liens filed on him..He changed his name from Danny Goeds to Dan Goeds Patrick…He filed bankruptcy and owed millions of dollars and yet he can afford to loan his campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars while still not making good on his debts…HOW HE EVEN GOT ELECTED TO THE STATE SENATE IS BEYOND ME…I guess the dumbasses in his district don’t care about integrity and honesty but only some sort of cult following because of his radio show…He will never win the Lt. Governor race because there are enough Democrats the would rather have David Dewhurst back in that office than this lunatic fringe crook….

    • Zod

      You are right! Patrick is not his birth surname. I picked that up on the radio one time …..When he was speaking with Bill Balleza and Bill intentionally or not brought up Irish being associated with the name Patrick. Patrick never said a word. Dan’s surname is German. I know many in the radio business do not use their real names, etc. He just came across as another “do gooder” riding on the coat tails of the Evangelical movement -but in the end, greed and believing your own hype and press will get you. So many phonies–I wish he would have done better.

  • workedhardformymoney

    I hope you don’t approve of him not paying his fair share of taxes. It is true that he changed his name, when he had to file bankruptcy. It’s amazing he made money with a degree in English. He didn’t even study Law! Thank goodness his son did.

  • Anonymous

    If Texas is a joke, then why are we the most sought after state to live in at the moment… oops excuse me, most sought after state to live in the last DECADE. Dan Patrick wont be any worse than David Dewhurst, who is better than any damn dirty Democrat. I voted for Dewhurst, but we got Ole Danny Boy, so you know what. I am support him, because he is better candidate than both Van de Putte and the Abortion Barbie combined. Texas WILL raise this nation to new heights we have never seen. Just you wait.

    • $2745312

      The popularity Texas enjoys will be the source of its conversion to a Blue state

  • Biglarry1964

    I am a life long repub who will be home sitting on my behind for the November election. Sorry Danny Boy!

    • Michael Todd

      I don’t think you a Republican. Nice try though.

  • Michael Todd

    And Wendy Davis is a narcissistic governor wannabe that is an embarrassment to Dallas and couldn’t get re-elected to the Texas Senate. What a winner you guys have there.

  • Betty Weaver Woods

    This is exactly what you would expect to see in this Liberal Rag….No honesty…just More Liberal Propaganda. No Wonder TM is losing customers!!

    • ComradeAnon

      Care to provide evidence of the dishonesty?

    • Dale Chan

      God, you are dumb.

  • Choderus

    Which will prove yet again that while all Texans are not idiots, at least 51% of us are.

  • imbok

    Hey, if he can be the worst legislator, he can certainly be the worst Lt. Gov.