For the December 2018 issue, we named 31 of the most powerful people in Texas. (We rounded that number up to 50 online.) Our cover subject, Sister Norma Pimentel, is a Catholic nun who has become the welcoming face of the United States to many Central American refugees who wind up on the streets of McAllen seeking asylum. Tim Dunn, a Midland oilman and political advocate who views the world through an Evangelical Christian lens, is perhaps the most influential political donor in Texas. These two Texans share a deep commitment to their faiths and their fellow man, and each has had profound effects on the state.
In this conversation available exclusively to subscribers, senior editor Carlos Sanchez, who has known Sister Norma for years, and senior editor R.G. Ratcliffe, who has covered Dunn and his policy efforts extensively, discuss what drives these two remarkable people, where their power comes from, and how they use that power for the causes they’re passionate about. We also imagine what a conversation between the two of them would be like: although they look at the world differently, our sense is that the two would find a lot in common. It would be a very different conversation from the one Dunn had years ago with Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, which R.G. details in a remarkable scene that opens his profile of Dunn.
We name Sister Norma the “patron saint of the border”; Dunn, we say, is the man “pushing the Texas Republican party into the arms of God.” Both descriptions are guilty of some hyperbole. And yet it remains difficult to overstate how much influence each has had and continues to have on our society. We hope you enjoy what R.G. and Carlos have to say about each. As always, we thank you for being a Texas Monthly subscriber.