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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE V PRESIDENT WRIGHT? Among those discussing the possibility of the Democrats drafting House Speaker Jim Wright for the presidential race was Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory, who quoted an unnamed House member saying there had been “a lot of chatter” about the speaker’s qualifications for the White House. McGrory reported in her December 22 column that many House members are still officially committed to the campaign of Missourian Richard Gephardt and so are not willing to publicly support Wright. But in the likely event that Gephardt’s campaign is a washout they will be looking for a new candidate. McGrory acknowledged that Wright’s bad press on ties to this state’s businessmen would be a problem for him, but wrote that many members of the House say Wright “has the qualities that voters say they are looking for: leadership, strength, daring conviction.” She noted the speaker’s strong and active role in challenging the Reagan administration to stand up for peace in Central America. She also added that “Wright is a bred in the bone populist. He grew up dirt poor, the son of a victim of the Depression. But his father instilled in him a love of books and ideas that makes him a cut above the more invented politicians now in the field. If it’s vision they want, Wright has it: his father’s dictum that every generation has to do better.” Wright says his ambitions do not go further than the speakership, but many remember his early ’60s run for the U.S. Senate and his apparent desire to set himself on a course that might lead to the White House. Draft or not, Wright will be in a key position at what promises to be a fractious Democratic convention in Atlanta this summer. Wright will serve as chairman of the convention. V JESSE JACKSON, however, can envision Wright as a vice-presidential candidate on Jackson’s ticket. The Reverend Jackson has made several warm comments about Wright in the media lately. In an interview on Face the Nation, Jackson commented, “One man I’m very impressed with, who has the kind of qualities that impress me, is Jim Wright of Texas. In part because he is speaker of the House and knows the inner affairs of government, in part because he has grown so much as a political servant. His sense of energy and jobs, his sense ofahumanity, even his sense of foreign policy . . . it represents balance.” Jackson has also made favorable remarks recently about Agriculture Commissioner Hightower and Attorney General Jim Mattox, who Jackson said demonstrates a sense of compassion for the poor and the left out in society. V HIGHTOWER, for his part, has made 16 JANUARY 15, 1988 no secret of his feeling that Jackson has been undersold by the press. Hightower has not officially endorsed a candidate for President, but he recently was quoted by the Village Voice’s James Ridgeway as saying, “White liberals are saying, ‘I ought to be for Jesse Jackson,’ and kind of saying to themselves, `Why am I not for Jesse Jackson’?’ ” Hightower said Jackson “is transcending the fact that he is a black candidate. He is gaining white support, not from white liberals where you would anticipate it coming from, but from the kind of people who are like Willie Nelson the sort of redneck, lower middle-class constituency that is out there, and since Bobby Kennedy and George Wallace, hasn’t been voting that much.” BILL LEISSNER JacksOn ,last year in Austin V LOOKING BACK to November, one recalls the brief talk about Senator Lloyd Bentsen as a possible vice-presidential candidate. Austin American-Statesman columnist Jesse Trevino quoted South Texas Hispanic politicians speculating that a Dukakis For President or a Simon For President campaign would benefit from having Bentsen on the ticket. Others speculated, wrote Trevino, that “Bentsen’s chances would improve if New York’s Gov. Mario Cuomo snatched the nomination especially if Vice President George Bush, a Texan by choice, were the GOP nominee.” Trevino also noted that campaign law would allow Bentsen to run for vice-president at the same time he was running for reelection. V THAT SPELLS bad news for Amarillo Congressman Beau Boulter who, with the promise of heavy backing from the Republican National Party, has decided to make the kamikaze race against Bentsen for Senate in 1988. Few observers think Bentsen can be beat and Democrats are hoping that a beefed-up Bentsen campaign will help other Democrats on the ticket as well. Boulter will not be able to reclaim his seat in Congress by going through with the race for Senate. V THE BAD NEWS for the Democrats is that state Senator Bill Sarpalius has announced his intention to run for Boulter’s Congressional seat. What would be an ideal chance for the Democrats to take the seat back from the Republican Party is now jeopardized if Sarpalius, who is viewed as something of a buffoon by many who have seen him operate in the state Senate, runs the kind of losing race he is capable of. The Republicans will field a large crop of candidates in the primary to replace Boulter. V REPUBLICANS are losing one of their most high-profile members of the state House. Houston Rep. Mike Toomey has announced he will not run for reelection, but will instead join Gov. Bill Clements’s staff to run his legislative program. Hardline conservative Rep. Bill Ceverha of Dallas has also announced he won’t be back in the next legislature. Ceverha, who used to run around the House impersonating a political neanderthal, in the most recent session had improved his reputation as a thorough and well-prepared legislator who was a force to be reckoned with. With the loss of Toomey and Ceverha, the vocal and ideological faction of House Republicans has been seriously weakened. VIC HINTERIANG Gov. Bill Clements