Texas Monthly Talks with Jerry Patterson

Program: Texas Monthly Talks
Time: 7 p.m.
Date: Thursday, Feb. 5
Also airs: Sunday, Feb. 8, at 12:30 p.m.

They say politics is show business for ugly people. If so, without casting aspersions on his plainly respectable appearance, this week’s guest would be a Hollywood casting director’s dream: always in character; know his lines and delivers them flawlessly; and conveys a casual authenicity rarely seen in an industry filled with poseurs and pretenders. Indeed, the thing that’s most noteworthy about Jerry Patterson’s affect is his lack thereof: The 62-year-old Land Commissioner of Texas is every bit the taut-jawed, perenially upright Marine turned reluctant civilian. Born in Houston, Patterson gradudated from Texas A&M University with a degree in history and not long after volunteered to go to Vietnam — one of five generations of Pattersons to serve in the military from his great-grandfather James Monroe Cole, a Confederate Infantryman in the Civil War, to his son, Travis, just back from two tours with the Marines in Iraq Deisgnated a naval flight officer in Pensacola, he served in figher squadrons until retiring from the Marine Corps Reserves as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1993. That year he was sworn in as a state senator representing District 11, and he held that seat until 1999; three years later, he successfully ran for Land Commissioner, handily beating a popular conservative Democrat, and was releected by an even great margin in 2006. The issues he tends to extend from coastal management to the plight of the state’s veterans, and he tackles every one with the same no-nonsense, do-the-people’s-business approach — though as a proud and unapologetic conservative, he certainly doesn’t shy from controversy, as his passionate advocacy of gun owners’ rights would suggest. Let’s just say that you should always assume he’s locked and loaded. And he’s unapologetically political too — potential 2010 opponents in both parties should likewise consider themselves warned. A conversation with Jerry Patterson, on this edition of Texas Monthly Talks.

— Evan Smith, host of Texas Monthly Talks