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An assistant majority leader, Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, won his first Senate term in 2012. He’s worked in banking and finance for more than two decades. (File photo)
An assistant majority leader, Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, won his first Senate term in 2012. He’s worked in banking and finance for more than two decades. (File photo)

Breaking the Ice: Pursuing ‘influence without authority’ in politics

 Name: Eric Pratt

Title: Senator, District 55

Education: B.A., economics, University of Colorado; MBA, University of St. Thomas

Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, says politics in the Capitol aren’t that different from politics in the corporate world.

Pratt has experience in both. An assistant majority leader, Pratt won his first Senate term in 2012. He’s worked in banking and finance for more than two decades.

“Sometimes you have to negotiate with someone whom you have no authority over,” Pratt said. “I always say you have to influence without authority.”

Authenticity is the key, Pratt said. That means, “you’re honest with them, you tell them what you can do and what you can’t do.”

Pratt served 12 years on the Prior Lake-Savage School Board before a retiring senator suggested running for Senate.

A founding member of the “Purple Caucus,” Pratt said he hoped the group of GOP and DFL senators would make a comeback.

“When I have something I want to talk about and someone I know I trust and like, I usually go to someone who’s in the [Purple] Caucus,” Pratt said.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. Just ask. That’s really about it. Just ask. “Do you have a few minutes?” I’ll tell you if I don’t. I always meet with constituents first, I meet with them last and they always bump anybody else.

Q. Who was the first presidential candidate you voted for? Why?

A. Ronald Reagan. It was 1984. I became a Reagan fan in ’80. I don’t know that there was any question I wasn’t going to vote for him.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. I just picked up “Too Big to Fail,” by Andrew Ross. I tend to like business books like “Liar’s Poker,” “Barbarians at the Gate,” “Den of Thieves,” “The Big Short.” Not too long ago I finished “American Assassin” by Vince Flynn. I enjoy the Mitch Rapp series.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. It’s probably one I violate all the time. Bad grammar. My mom was an English teacher. She corrected me my entire life.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. I enjoy skiing. I try to get out with my son out in Colorado at least once a year.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. My hometown is Prior Lake, so I would try to get them out on the lake for a day. Do a little fishing, do a little skiing. Cruise around the lake.

Q. How has an event or person inspired you (personally, politically or professionally)?

A. My dad was one of my biggest influences. He taught me about credibility and keeping your word. He was in banking for many years. I learned about leadership from Bill McCartney (former Colorado football coach for whom Pratt played linebacker). He was probably the most influential person on that side. He and I talked about leadership a couple of years ago and how sometimes you have to make a big, bold decision and get people behind you and follow through with it.

Q. What would be one way to end partisan polarization?

A. What causes the polarization is a power struggle. Sometimes you’ve just got to be respectful. When I was in the minority, it was hard to get anything done. Now I find my colleagues that were in the majority and now in the minority struggling with that. I would like to see us get to a level where we stop playing games.

Q. Where do you like to eat lunch?

A. In Minneapolis I’m a regular at D. Brian’s. In St. Paul the Downtowner or Burger Moe’s. Cosetta’s is awesome. In my district I’m at either at Fong’s in Prior Lake or Turtle’s in Shakopee.

Q. What is something very few people know about you?

A. My nature is to be somewhat shy and introverted. It’s always a challenge for me in the roles that I’ve chosen to pursue to be more extroverted and try to get over some of my shyness.

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