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A message to voters All registered voters have an opportunity to vote in our Constitutional Election on Tuesday, November 4. Free and open elections are the foundation upon which Democracy is built. It is the responsibility of the Secretary of State to protect your voting rights. If you have any problems voting on November 4, please call us in Austin at this toll-free number: 1-800-292-9677 Exercise your right to vote. It’s easy, and it’s important. Sincerely, old Texas Secretary of State A public service ad for the constitutional referendum in 1975 Mark White’s publicity campaigns By Rusty Todd Austin In the past 11 months, Secretary of State Mark White has organized three statewide publicity campaignsa “get-out-the-vote” drive and two voter registration drivesat a cost of at least $100,000. Like its two predecessors, the registration drive now underway does a pretty fair job of hurling White’s image into the public’s view. This summer Todd worked as a speech and script writer on Mark White’s voter registration drive. 6 The Texas Observer Every radio and television outlet in the state is receiving voter registration announcements featuring White in two 30second English-language appearances and his special counsel, Lupe Zamarripa, in a Spanish version. The drive’s printed material, from press information kits to registration packets for individuals, has White’s name on it. It is hardly surprising that White is frequently mentioned as a probable candidate for statewide office. The secretary of state post, which is filled by gubernatorial appointment, has traditionally been a political stepstone. The latest press speculation, which comes from the Houston Chronicle, places him in a 1978 attorney general race. He is also considered a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination to take on U.S. Sen. John Tower. White contends his voter drives are nonpolitical and have nothing to do with his personal ambitions. But a “master plan” for the voter program wri,ten by Zamarripa has a chapter titled “Spinoffs: the Smooth Transition from Secretary of State to the Election of a Statewide Office via Carefully Selected Personal and Media Techniques.” This chapter proposes using the voter registration programs as a basis for raising money and soliciting votes in a statewide campaign, mainly through development of mailing lists. . One sentence says, “We hold these letters, thousands of them, depending on the momentum of the campaign, until 10 or 15 days prior to the election day and then send them out. . . .” There is little doubt that the document was prepared expressly for White, as it refers to a specific “you” in outling various proposals. For example: “There are countless magazine articles we can ghostwrite for you. . . . Have you ever thought about writing book reviews? You could get someone else to read the book, write the review, brief you, and away you go.” Zamarripa also suggests in the plan, “You might want to get in touch with various . professors and cultivate them.” Tying the voter registration scheme back into White’s future campaigns, the master plan suggests White develop a theme like “the man who taught you about your right to vote” or “the man who did most to inform you about your rights to vote.” Zamarripa admits with some pride that he prepared this secret, often ridiculous document, but he has tried to keep the “Spinoffs” chapter completely under wraps. “If any of the stuff in it got out, it would kill us,” he said on one occasion. According to Zamarripa, White read and approved the master plan. White, on the other hand, says he read it and rejected the portion tying voter registration to any political campaign. “I’ve bent over backwards not to politicize this campaign,” he said. White conducted his first drivea “getout-the-vote” projectin the weeks preceding the November, 1975, election in which the Texas constitutional revision proposal was defeated. His staff initiated an information service with a bank of toll-free long distance lines, and White hired a public relations firm to produce public service material for the operation. State auditor records show White paid the firm $28,437 for its media work. As they say in the trade, White was the man out front, especially in the newspaper campaign. A third of the advertisements’ space was devoted to a glamorous, overhead photograph of White standing stolidly in the Lone Star on the Capitol rotunda floor. Copy in the ad informed the reader that voting is’ an important part of democracy, furnished the toll-free number, and ended with White’s signature. The Lufkin News of Nov. 9, 1975, complained in an editorial, “This newspaperlike most