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Meet the Candidates: Barry Smitherman

Todd Wiseman for The Texas Tribune

Raised in Highlands, Texas, Barry Smitherman initially set his sights on the world of finance. But a funny thing happened on the way to the top: an op-ed he cowrote on reforming Houston's finances led to him getting fired from his high-profile post at Bank One.

At age 42, Smitherman had to start over, accepting a post as a "baby" prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney's office. Out the blue came an appointment from the Governor to serve on the Texas Public Finance Authority and then the Public Utility Commission, where he became chairman. In 2012, He was elected to the Railroad Commission, which he chairs.

These days, Smitherman, one of three prominent Republican candidates for Texas Attorney General, looks back on his firing and sees it as a blessing, saying he likely would have never pursued a political career otherwise. 

In this wide-ranging interview with KUT Senior Political Correspondent Ben Philpott and Texas Standard Host David Brown, Smitherman talks about a range of issues – from border security to the AG's law enforcement function and free speech in the workplace, among other topics. 

We've invited all the candidates in the major statewide races to join us in the studio for 'get-to-know-you' sessions. We'll be sharing them with you on the air at 90.5 and online right here.

Smitherman faces state Rep. Dan Branch and state Sen. Ken Paxton on primary day,  Tuesday, Feb. 4.

David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."