Beat Who ‘Like a Drum?’ “I’ve never even heard of Jim Hightower,” incumbent Agriculture Commissioner Reagan Brown was saying one morning last fall as we both waited for a Capitol elevator. “I’m gonna beat him like a drum.” On a warm May night some six months later, Reagan Brown had heard of Jim Hightower. Beaten decisively in almost every county in the state, Reagan Brown was out of a job. “I have no comments,” he told reporters when contacted at his Austin campaign headquarters.” With 4,282 of 4,442 precincts counted, Hightower led the incumbent 610,886 to 417,498 or 59% to 41%. “Our percentages are beyond any candidates expectations,” Hightower said late Saturday night. “I felt secure we were going to win, but my own guess was about 55%.” Commissioner Brown started his final week of campaigning by inexplicably shoving his hand into a fire ant mound on the Capitol grounds, getting stung 37 times. Later in the week he referred in a speech to Booker T. Washington as a “great black nigger.” Although Brown attributed the remark to a fever caused by food poisoning he picked up from a turkey sandwich in Laredo, a Houston black group withdrew its endorsement. Hightower contended the damage had been done weeks before. “We pulled ahead in the polls in February,” he said, “because we had a strong grassroots organization, and people were responding to the issues. Farmers are going broke, consumers are being gouged, and these are the issues we were speaking to.” “I knew we were gonna get him,” Hightower continued, “about mid-March when we began to get the farm vote not just little bitty farmers, but some mighty big farmers, almost Republican farmers.” Hightower also put to good use lessons he learned in his unsuccessful bid for the railroad commission two years ago. This year’s race was a textbook grassroots campaign. “Our organization was the best we’ve had in Texas in a long, long time,” he said. “We had 25 counties with steering committees devoted exclusively to our race, and they met weekly. About 30 of these volunteers went to a campaign-training school run by John Rogers [Austin political consultant]. They were able to raise money at the grassroots, they learned how to use phone banks. In other words, they learned the hardware of politics. What we were doing was multiplying people power.” Ann Richards, meanwhile, was doing the same thing in her race for state treasurer. Utilizing a superb statewide organization, Richards pulled in 466.546 votes to incumbent Warren Harding’s 362,379 45% to 35%. Former state representative Lane Denton of Waco trailed with 14% of the vote. Harding, of course, was handicapped to some extent by the Travis County Grand Jury indictment and by allegations that surfaced during the last week of campaigning that he is under investigation on charges of sexual harassment involving female treasurer’s office employees. \(And now, as we go to press, Harding has Along with Hightower and Richards, two progressive candidates also prevailed in the attorney general’s race. Jim Hannah of Tyler with 301,256 votes chance to face Republican Bill Meier of Euless in November. The governor’s race was a different story. With 96% of the vote counted, Mark White, whose organizational efforts were probably superior to his two opponents, led with 508,192 votes or 45.3%. Railroad Commissioner Buddy Temple followed with 343,791 or 30.7%. Land Commissioner Bob Armstrong was running third with 210,780 or 18.8%. Armstrong attributed his poor showing to a financially undernourished campaign. White meanwhile expressed amazement at Gov. Bill Clements’ edge over TEXAS sERvER The Progressive Biweekly Vol. 74, No. 9 May 7, 1982 Editor and Publisher: Ronnie Dugger Co-Editor: Joe Holley Associate Editor: Lyman Jones Staff Writer: Ruperto Garcia Washington Correspondent: Bob Sherrill Research Director in Washington: Katharine C. Fain EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, El Paso; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham, N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, New York City; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Presley, Texarkana, Tx.; Susan Reid, Austin; A.R. Tehachapi, Ca.; Alfred J. Watkins, Austin. LAYOUT: Kat Duff. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Warren Burnett, Nina Butts, Jo Clifton, John Henry Faulk, Bill Helmer, Jack Hopper, Laurence Jolidon, Mary Lenz, Matt Lyon, Greg Moses, Janie Paleschic, Laura Richardson, M. P. Rosenberg, Bob Sindermann, Jr., Paul Sweeney, Lawrence Walsh. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Alan Pogue, Grant Fehr, Bob Clare, Russell Lee, Scott Van Osdol, Ronald Cortes CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: Berke Breathed, Jeff Danziger, Ben Sargent, Mary Margaret Wade, Gail Woods Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate. A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them, because this is a journal of free voices. Business Manager: Frances Barton Office Manager: Joe Espinosa, Jr. Advertising, Special Projects: Cliff Olofson The Texas Observer postage paid at Austin, Texas. 75V prepaid. One year, $20; two years, $38; three years, $56. One year rate for full-time students, $13. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from Microfilming Corporation of America, Box 10, Sanford, N.C. 27330. Copyright 1982 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. 2 MAY 7, 1982 POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701.
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