For the past three decades, Houstonians have known Dan Patrick first as a flamboyant television sportscaster, then as a radio station owner and conservative talk show host.
It’s training that’s given the 64-year old state senator an upper hand in debates with David Dewhurst.
“He’s Dewhurst’s worst nightmare, after his first worst nightmare, running against Ted Cruz,” said Joe Holley, a Houston Chronicle columnist who’s been covering Texas politics for decades.
“Houstonians of a certain age remember Dan Patrick as a shock jock sports broadcaster and talk show host who would do anything for ratings,” Holley said. “And Patrick’s colleagues are deeply concerned it’s the shock jock who will be running the Texas Senate next year.”
Holley says the Chronicle interviewed numerous Republican legislators who want ABP, anybody but Patrick, as lieutenant governor. It’s one reason Patrick’s hometown newspaper endorsed Dewhurst.
Then there are the attack ads questioning Patrick for changing his birth name of Dannie Goeb to his broadcast name, Dan Patrick. And accusations about unpaid debts from his 1980’s bankruptcy.
“If we disqualify every person who went broke for turning his life around … That’s not the country we have,” Patrick said. “I went broke, and I changed my name. They don’t have anything to do with anything else.”
None of this has slowed down the 64-year old, pro-life, Tea Party Evangelical.
“I’m going to be a bold, no-nonsense conservative leader. I’m an unapologetic Christian, I’m a bold conservative, I’m a Reagan Republican,” he said.
Patrick says he’s accomplished a lot in his seven years in the Texas Senate.
“I put ‘In God We Trust’ in the Senate, ‘under God’ in our pledge, passed the sonogram bill, cut business taxes for businesses of $1 million, passed sweeping school reform this year and took on CSCOPE,” Patrick said.
Securing the border with more than periodic surges of spending and law enforcement will be his first priority if elected.
“As lieutenant governor, it won’t be a surge. It will be a 365-day, 24/7 operation by Texas law enforcement,” he said.
Wednesday, as he voted early, Patrick talked to reporters about his health records recently released by a primary opponent who now supports Dewhurst.
“It’s backfired. And I’m not a victim, I’m not a martyr. But I will be a spokesman. And I think there are a lot of people out there, millions, who go through this at some point in their lives, and we need to be real people in the public,” he said.
After besting Dewhurst by 13 points in the primary, Patrick says he feels confident of a win Tuesday night.
He says he’ll practice what he preaches and forgive David Dewhurst for the knock-down, nasty campaigning.