Page 20


Up for Grabs kept a stranglehold on the legislature until the 1971 Sharpstown scandal. \(The hold ing the Gus Mutscher years Ogg sponsored over 50 of the infamous water district bills \(officially called municipal utildevelopers, giving them taxing and bonding authority on their suburban land, and thus allowing them to subsidize their developments with tax money. Ogg began to talk about running for statewide office in 1971, but he waited ten years to do so. Here is a sampling of Ogg’s legislative doings over the years: When possession of marijuana was still a felony in Texas, Ogg amended a ‘reform bill to make marijuana possession, in effect, a misdemeanor only for offenders under 21 who were “experimenting” with the drug for the first time. In 1973 Ogg introduced a bill making it illegal for editors of the University of Texas newspaper to endorse statewide candidates or comment on state legislation in the paper. In 1977 he proposed legislation to prevent municipal school districts from annexing smaller school districts without the smaller ones’ permission, which could protect lily-white districts like Highland Park in Dallas. And in 1979 Ogg was a champion of the Split Primary Bill, also known as the Connally-for-President bill. In 1967 Ogg explained his party affiliation to a Houston Chronicle reporter: “I can best serve . . . as a Democrat in an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature.” Ogg’s attorney general campaign has been marred lately by a lawsuit filed against him by a Houston company, accusing Ogg of using his influence to block a landfill permit. Ogg has responded with a slander suit, and it is unlikely that either suit will be settled before the primary. When Jim Mattox gave up the idea of becoming a Baptist preacher, he decided to do good works through politics instead. He was voted the Outstanding Freshman Legislator in 1973, his first year as a state representative from East Dallas, and he was appointed to the powerful House Budget Committee in 1977, his first year in Congress. A born organizer, Mattox in 1975 reactivated the progressive House Study Group, which met twice a week and published a daily digest of bills, and in 1977 he organized freshman Democrats in Congress. The next year he began to talk about balancing the federal budget and attempted unsuccessfully to cut four billion dollars in budget authority for new federal programs. Mattox, made uncomfortable by his close elections to Congress in 1978 and 1980, has slipped lately from his oncesturdy liberalism. For example, the watchdog League of Conservation Voters \(on whom the Sierra Club depends tox’s votes in Congress 771/2 correct in 1978, 60% correct in 1979, and 51% correct in 1980. Max Sherman, who has been out of politics for four yours, was a politically moderate, widely admired state senator from 1971 to 1977, representing twentysix Panhandle counties, including Amarillo, his home. He chaired the Senate Natural Resources Committee and, after trying unsuccessfully to pass his own, good stripmining bill, helped pass another that environmentalists consider relatively good. Sherman also sponsored the bill creating the Energy Development Fund for research in alternative energy. Sherman was president of West Texas State University from 1977 until last December, and he is proud of the way he “streamlined the administration” by switching from four vice-presidents to one and requiring deans to teach as well as administer. He also made the general education requirements more strict and raised private money for scholarships and better fine arts programs. John Hannah’s friends describe him as “crime-fighting and racket-busting,” and he is. Hannah was one of the Dirty Thirty as a state representative from Lufkin and the executive director of Texas Common Cause for a year. In the early seventies he was Angelina County Lufkin by stepping up prosecutions and doubling the conviction rate. When Carter appointed him U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas in 1977, on Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s recommendation, Hannah began his racket-busting. He won convictions of a few dozen corrupt local officials, most for accepting kickbacks. Hannah is a prosecutor’s prosecutor and is endorsed by 16 East Texas district attorneys. “There are very few things I like to do better than go to trial,” he says. The one Republican, Bill Meier, has been a state senator since 1973 but a Republican only since June of last year. Last session, while still a Democrat, Meier sponsored a number of Clements’ anti-drug bills and tried unsuccessfully to legislate restrictions of money-market funds \(which would have helped out member of the powerful Texas Energy and Natural Resources Adoisory Council and the candidates committee of the Associated Republicans of Texas, which plans to dole out a million dollars to Republican candidates this year. In 1980 Clements appointed Meier state chairman of Democrats and Independents for Reagan-Bush. A brief history of Meier’s statements on party affiliation and running for office is in order here: In September 1980, Democrat Meier said that he had no intention of changing parties. In November 1980, Meier said that he would decide within six weeks if he were going to switch parties because it was important to decide before the legislative session. Six months later he announced his crossover to the Republican party. He also said that he was thinking about running for lieutenant governor or for Congress. In September 1980, he said that he would not run for any statewide office. Three months later he announced his candidacy for attorney general. Clements endorses Meiers, who he says would make an outstanding attorney general. Meier’s ability to win the race should not be underestimated. The Republicans will spend millions of dollars on their statewide candidates this year. The Democrats who oppose Meier will already have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the primary campaign, but nouveau Republican Meier will be fresh and well-armed. And that is the thing about this interesting and crowded attorney general race that makes one sigh. 0 Lawyering .from ence. He does, however, consider himself a particularly good lawyer, and he is running on that. “The other people in the race are politicians,” he says. “This job is lawyering.” Hannah is good at lawyering. When he was district attorney in his home the prosecution and conviction rates. He made himself a regional hero as U.S. attorney in East Texas when he obtained convictions of 30 corrupt local officials. He has a strong sense of justice racial and political justice and a district attorney’s contempt for the “mean people in the world.” He is refreshingly earnest about working for good and against evil. I suspect that his voice, which is steady and deliberate even when he is perspiring under camera lights or chain-smoking his way through an interview, is convincing to judges and juries. Besides knowing how to go to court, Hannah is experienced at running a law Continued on page 11 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 4