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“I’ve always had the feeling that he never really believed anything. He’s fairly predictable, not in terms of ideology, but where the majority is on emotional issues, that’s where you’ll find Mark White.” Politically, liberal Democratic distaste for Mark White usually focuses on positions he has taken as attorney general voting rights \(where he managed to cede the progressive ground to the likes of Bill alien question, bilingual education, electronic surveillance, capital punishment. White insists that his position as the state’s attorney general is not necessarily his personal position. On the bilingual education question, for example, he told the Observer last spring \(TO, that “My commitment, and I think some of the misunderstanding that people have of this office is that as a state lawyer, I have to defend the law that may or may not agree with my own thoughts on what the law might ought to be. I have gone out and vigorously supported changes in our bilingual law, worked very closely with the Mexican American political legislative caucus to see that we have an updated bilingual law which touches not only the needs of the Spanishspeaking child, but every other child who comes to this state who does not have English as a first language . . .” On the plane from Tyler to San An tonio, White reminisced about another conflict between his personal beliefs and his AG duties the Ruiz vs. Estelle case over prison conditions. “I’m down there trying to tell the most liberal judge in Texas [U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice of Tyler] that the state is doing everything it can to take care of its prisoners and, up jumps the devil, he [Clements] vetoes the appropriations bill” \(a bill authorizing over $39 million White said he told Clements, “You don’t need a lawyer, you need a magician to get those prisoners off the floor.” He mimicked the governor’s snarling response: ‘Well, how’re we gonna do it?’ ” White said he told the governor he didn’t know; maybe the state could put them in tents. “Those are the facts,” White said just before landing in San Antonio, “and I’ll put them in an affadavit. That prison case is when I knew we needed a new governor.” “The most important case,” White added, “is one we stayed out of court on, litigation on desegregation of higher education under Title XI.* They don’t build statues to governors who avoided lawsuits. They also don’t build statues to * On a related issue, White has failed to issue an opinion on Rep. Wilhemina Delco’s request, repeated 13 times, as to whether Prairie View A&M, the black adjunct of Texas A&M, is entitled to an equal share of the Permanent University Fund. governors who raise taxes. They do change governors.” As the campaign moves into its last month, Bill Clements is pounding away at Mark White’s alleged incompetence, citing, for example, a $66,000 default judgment against Texas A&M because the attorney general’s office failed to appear in court for the case. Labeling White “Malpractice Mark,” Clements campaign manager Jim Francis charges that the Texas A&M case is not an isolated incident. He cites another default judgment, for $230,000, in Travis County against the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation because the attorney general failed to show up for trial. Francis also charge that White failed to file timely appeals in other cases as well. “You don’t need a lawyer, you need a magician to get those prisoners off the floor.” “He can criticize me for mistakes a young lawyer made who’s making 19 to 25 thousand dollars a year working in the attorney general’s office,” White said, “but he can’t show me one instance where those mistakes have yet to cost the state any money. We fully expect the judgment in the A&M case to be set aside.” White also contends that his office has won 98% of its 31,000 cases, that his of _ fice has won most cases on appeal, and he says, “I’ll defy you to find a lawyer who’s won over William Wayne Justice twice in three weeks.” \(Both the prison and the bilingual cases were reversed on appeal in favor of more modest adjust”The won-loss ratio is a spurious issue,” Austin labor attorney David Richards says, “both for Clements to raise and White to respond to. Many of these are routine cases with no adversary forfeiture cases, default judgments, consent judgments. There’s no way to really get a handle on those types of cases.” Richards, who says he has dealt with White’s predecessors, Crawford Martin and John Hill, as well as with White, says Mark White is the only one of the three who has made genuine efforts to reach out-of-court settlements instead of going to trial at the drop of a hat. “You may call that rolling over,” Richrds says, “but I call it acting responsibly.” Several other cases irritate liberal Democrats. Last spring White brought suit against General Motors, charging that the company was abusing Texas consumers by requiring Texas auto dealers to participate in consumer rebates. Buddy Temple charged that White’s action had caused GM to exclude Texas from a sales campaign that offered much lower interest rates to the consumer. The auto dealers finally gave in and agreed to conditions they had earlier rejected. In what seemed to be another instance of Mark White trying to be all things to all voters, he appeared on television saying that he had won a victory for consumers. Actually he was rescuing them from a dilemma of his and the auto dealers’ own making. More recently, White irritated liberals by petitioning the Supreme Court to set aside a stay of the execution of Charles Bass. “The appeals go on and on forever,” White said. “It’s reckless and makes the justice system appear foolish. any more than an abuse of the judicial system.” John Duncan of the Texas Civil Liberties called White’s petition “a cheap stunt.” As Duncan saw it, “the governor’s campaign is the only reason he did it.” IN 1977, MARK WHITE quit after five years as secretary of state to run for attorney general in the Demo cratic primary against Price Daniel, Jr., former speaker of the House and bearer of one of the most famous names in Texas politics. White, as much_ an underdog as Bill Clements, rode a halfmillion-dollar end-of-the-campaign media blitz to victory over Daniel. In the general election, he got more votes than either John Hill or Bill Clements and defeated Republican James Baker III, the man who now serves as Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff. White, an indefatigable campaigner, believes he can do it again, and at this writing, the polls show him neck-andneck with Bill Clements. His financial situation is good, he says. “We’re not going to match Clements obviously. We spent 1.3 and 1.5 million in the primary, and we look to spend between three and four. We can afford to be outspent two, to one.” White picked up $4.2 million in pledges in June, and he expects to collect 60 to 80% of that. He anticipates pledges overall between 5 and 6 million dollars and expects to collect about 4 million of that. About $2.8 million of that will be spent on media. He also has fund-raisers scheduled around the state that are de THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13