Man of the People
texasmonthly.com: When did you decide to write about Dan Patrick?
Mimi Swartz: I have wanted to write about him for a couple of years at least, because he has been such a phenomenon in Houston for so long, taking on local power figures like Ken Lay and Ben Love and, more recently, Mayor Bill White.
texasmonthly.com: How long did you work on the story?
MS: I worked on the story for about six weeks, beginning to end.
texasmonthly.com: How much time did you get to spend with Patrick himself?
MS: I spent about two to three hours with him on four or five occasions. He was very generous with his time.
texasmonthly.com: What was your impression of Patrick when you interviewed him? Was it different from your 2002 experience with him?
MS: He was a very difficult interview just because he has a canned way of speaking that was hard to penetrate. He’s polite and friendly, but pushing him to be insightful was difficult.
texasmonthly.com: Do you think he will actually get “taken to the woodshed”? Or will he be able to shake things up like he wants to?
MS: I think both things will happen. People will attack him, and he will fight back—and that will make for a very interesting session.
texasmonthly.com: Patrick’s polling shows that he has more name recognition than the governor. Given his tendency for dubious statistics, is this a legitimate claim? Is he really that influential?
MS: He is certainly that influential in the Houston—Harris County area, where he has been a local character for decades, first as a sportscaster, then as a celebrity bar owner, and then again as a talk-show host. He does have high name recognition and a lot of loyalty among his audience.