Bully, Ideologue, Worst - Sen. Patrick Targeted by Colleagues and Media Alike
Dan Patrick seems to have no issue with verbal altercation. The state senator, representing parts of northwest Houston, has gained quick notoriety for transferring his acidic on-air personality to the halls of Austin. He's offered crocodile tears for the students he purports to support. He's castigated pro-choice advocates on the floor while coddling those in his camp. Patrick, the Senate Educational Committee chair, has introduced a political theater that Texas hasn't seen in some time.
Not the best week for Sen. Patrick
But while Hair Balls has been harping on Patrick's method acting for some time, and while those on the other side of the aisle have often cited him while chastising Texas's hard-right Republican branch, it appears those closer to Patrick are finally taking notice. If this week is any indicator, Patrick has rapidly morphed into one of the most maligned characters set to take part in Gov. Perry's special session. Those tears and jeers he so often employs have finally corroded those who should otherwise offer their support or nonbiased ear as he attempts to chug toward higher office.
Put simply: Patrick's foes are no longer the Democrats that he and his committee can so rapidly write off. Those he's ticked off are far closer than he'd like.
The first he seems to have lost is the Texas Monthly, which recently revealed its list of Best and Worst Legislators of the 2013 Session. Some may have been surprised to see Patrick's name in the "Worst" list. After all, despite the abject and embarrassing failures of his neo-voucher scheme -- the GOP-controlled House hardly gave it a second's thought -- Patrick managed to both shift graduation requirements and lift the charter cap. Not an altogether unproductive session.
However, as the Quorum Report notes, Texas Monthly landed Patrick on the "Worst" list less for his ends and more for his means. As they noted, "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."
While the Monthly hedged its judgment -- Patrick "seem[s]" like a bully and ideologue -- it's easily the strongest language used on their "Worst" list. Not the best foot forward in Patrick's first year as chair.
However, the most unforgiving language came not from the disinterested media but from someone who should be, theoretically, in Patrick's camp. Thomas Ratliff, a Republican out of Mount Pleasant, has served on the State Board of Education since 2010, and as vice chairman he's helped steer the committee through some of its most controversial days. Ratliff has done what he can to restore the SBOE's reputation following arch-creationist Don McLeroy's days as chairman.