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No bull Bullock The Secretary of State Photo by Rene Perez Austin “Bob Bullock is such a mean son of a bitch. Oh, he is mean! Isn’t it great? He hates all the right people.” An Austin attorney speaking with gleeful affection. Six months ago, Robert D. Bullock was appointed Secretary of State of Texas, an office from which has seldom been heard either pip or squeak. Ever since then, roars of joyously leonine rage have been emanating from the first floor office in the capitol building not to mention the roars coming from Bullock’s eclectic targets. With a fine sense of nonpartisanship, Bullock has managed to infuriate not only the state’s Republicans, but Roy Orr, Crawford Martin, Ben Barnes and the Dallas Establishment to boot. “Even when I was a kid, I used to get into a lot of fights,” said Bullock, with a splendidly sadistic chuckle.. “I can still remember the first one I ever had: I can’t stand the guy to this beautiful day.” Buck Wood, director of the election division in the secretary of state’s office, said of his boss, “Bullock’s just not afraid of anybody. He’s not running for anything, he doesn’t plan to run for anything and he doesn’t care who he pisses off. The word for Bullock is intense. He likes more intensely and hates more vehemently than anyone I’ve ever known. He’s full of nervous energy, like a high-strung cat. I don’t think he ever sleeps. He calls me at home at 3 a.m. if that’s when an idea hits him.” Bullock’s style is an oasis of forthrightness in the desert of mush-mouthed politicians surrounding him. Chain-smoking, popping BC headache powders and prowling around his office, he talks about anything and everything with pleasantly profane candor. One gets the feeling that he would tell an outright lie with no hesitation if he thought there was good reason for it, but that he would never try to weasel out of a question. He is interested in history and reads rather widely; he talks well on several subjects outside politics. This phenomenon is from Hillsboro, as is his ex-boss and ex-buddy Attorney General Crawford Martin. “I’m so goddamn mad at Crawford it’s taken me ten minutes just to cool down enough to talk,” he said the afternoon after Martin had announced his intention to throw the primary financing mess back into the lap of the federal court, rather than getting a state supreme court ruling, as Bullock had wished. Several staff members in the secretary of state’s office impolitely expressed their conviction that rage has never yet rendered Bullock speechless. “Oh Lord, he screams and roars,” reported Wood. “He gets mad quickly but he gets over it quickly. We have knock-down drag-outs all the time, but I don’t take anything off anyone and he knows that and, actually, he appreciates people who stand up to him. He has a terrible time with secretaries, though. They, uh, don’t understand him.” NOT ONLY HAS Bullock achieved an impressive secretary turnover level, he has also managed to deck more than few longtimes employees in the secretary of state’s office with nervous prostration. “The one thing he can’t stand absolutely can’t stand is inaction,” said Wood. Bullock started out as an architect and practiced that profession for a few years before changing his mind and going back to get a law degree. He was elected to the Legislature in 1956 and served two terms. His record was liberal during his first session and conservative during his second. His explanation for the switch is that labor, despite his record at the end of his first session, put up a candidate against him. That made him mad. “I had to be one of the most naive people ever elected,” he recalls. “I even thought the Legislature met every year. I was .a Ralph Yarborough man, but no one on the liberal-labor side ever contacted me here. The first people I met were in the middle of the road or on the right. That’s a bad mistake the lib-labs make. A lot of people who get elected don’t really have any political feelings. There are a lot of friendship votes. I’ve seen how it works. You vote for a bill because the guy sponsoring it has been nice to you, not because it’s a good bill.” After a couple of sessions in the House, Bullock went on in that evolution peculiar to Texas politics after the Legislature, lobbying; just as senior high school follows junior. His biggest client was the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, along March 3, 1972 3