POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE v Shortly after the Dallas Morning News endorsed Roy Barrera, Jr., for attorney general, Attorney General Jim Mattox’s office announced that it was investigating allegations that the Morning News has falsely inflated its circulation figures, which would be a violation of the state deceptive trade practices law. Burl Osborne, president and editor of the Morning News, said he thought the investigation was politically motivated. Elna Christopher of Mattox’s office denied it, saying that “The Morning News doesn’t know what it’s talking about as usual.” The Dallas Times Herald is also suing the Morning News over the issue. Republican Barrera said Mattox’s investigation was a result of his personal vendetta against the newspaper, and in the heat of the election campaign called the action “the worst abuse of governmental power I have seen in my lifetime.” V Even though Rep. J.J. “Jake” Pickle, D, Austin, received at least 58 percent of the vote in the last 12 elections and was unopposed in his election of 1984, he has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from special-interest political action committees. Citizens Against PACS, a Washington-based research group, reports that Pickle, who won his recent race for Congress against Republican Carole Keeton Rylander by 27.6 percentage points, 135,203 to 51,628, ranks second in Texas in the amount of 1986 campaign contributions from special-interest PACS outside his congressional district. Pickle will begin his 12th full Congressional term in January. According to CAP, his PAC money has grown 1,360 percent between 1974 and 1986. The group points out that Pickle can pocket any campaign surplus when he retires, and suggests that Pickle’s position on the House Ways and Means Committee, which was considering a major tax reform bill in 1986, caused special interest groups to buy their way into Pickle’s good favor. Rep. Jim Wright, D-Ft. Worth, ranks first in the Texas delegation in PAC money, with a total through June 30, 1986, of $408,699. The top ten PAC recipients from Texas in 1986 are Wright; Pickle with $228,025; John Bryant, D-Dallas, $209,380; Joe Barton, R-Ennis, $175,136; Jack Brooks, D-Beaumont, $168,540; Jim Chapman, D-Marshall, $149,139; Jack Fields, RHouston, $137,207; Mac Sweeney, R Few Bright Spots for Democrats in Election ’86 V Democrats failed to pick up a single seat in the Texas Congressional delegation; the only new member is Lamar Smith, the Republican from San Antonio who will be taking the place of Rep. Tom Loeffler, R-Hunt. Smith beat the conservative Democrat Pete Snelson of Midland by 60.7 percent to 38.5 percent. Snelson had been encouraged to run by Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, though Bentsen did little to help him in the campaign. Rep. Jim Wright and former Gov. Dolph Briscoe made appearances on Snelson’s behalf and Smith used Snelson’s tie to Wright to suggest the candidate was tainted with liberalism. But Snelson did his best to counter this charge. One of Snelson’s mailings showed the candidate shaking hands with George Bush, according to San Antonio Democratic activist Joan Hutcheson. Still, Snelson failed to carry even Midland County, which he represented for nearly 20 years in the legislature, and Democrats will probably write this district off in the future. v The closest race for Congress was between incumbent Republican Mac Sweeney of Wharton and Democrat Greg Laughlin, a lawyer from West Columbia. Sweeney finished nearly 14.000 votes ahead, with 52.4 percent of the vote to Laughlin’s 47.6 percent. Sweeney, a first-term Repre sentative, had been put on the defensive by allegations that he had used his Congressional staff to aid his campaign, and Laughlin ran a negative campaign against him. Said Sweeney after his victory, “This shows the gains made in ’84 were not accidental, they were not illusory, they were not temporary.” v’ Democratic hopes to unseat Republican Joe Barton of Ennis, another first-termer, were dashed; Barton beat Pete Geren of Fort Worth by about 17,000 votes, 55.6 percent to 44.3 percent. Geren, who is a former aide to Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, ran about two points ahead of Gov. Mark White in the 6th Congressional District, according to Geren’s campaign manager, Patti Everitt. But Everitt said Geren was hurt by the Republican tide toward Bill Clements for governor. “You’ve got to have someone at the top who will help you,” she said. Geren tried to make an issue out of trade policies and unemployment but Barton’s cheerleading for the Reagan administration did not prove to be a liability. “In this district, they think Ronald Reagan and Phil Gramm are O.K. by about 80 percent,” said Everitt. Gramm represented the district for six years before winning his senate seat. Though Barton’s voting record was to the extreme right, he was able to present himself as a polished and capable lawmaker. “He’d gotten very smooth,” Everitt said. Geren’s worst showings were on both ends of the district in suburban Tarrant County and Montgomery County. Both went heavily Republican. V In other races, Rep. John Bryant, D-Dallas, won reelection by 58.5 percent to 40.7 percent over Republican neophyte Tom Carter; and J.J. “Jake” Pickle, D-Austin, trounced Republican Carole Keeton Rylander by 72.3 percent to 27.6 .percent. Democratic challengers in the Panhandle faired poorly: Hereford farmer Gerald McCathern lost to Rep. Larry Combest of Lubbock 62 percent to 38 percent, and Doug Seal of Wichita Falls lost to Rep. Beau Bolter of Amarillo 65 percent to 35 percent. George “Skeet” Richardson of Keller lost to Rep. Dick Armey of Denton 68 percent to 32 percent. In the Legislature v The only real race for the state senate almost ended in a Republican upset: by midnight on election night it appeared Republican Bennie Bock of New Braunfels might beat Democrat Judith Zaffirini of Laredo. But as the late boxes came in, Zaffirini pulled ahead and won by more than 3,000 votes out of about 112,000 cast. The 21st senatorial district stretches from the border to Corral 16 NOVEMBER 21, 1986
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.