POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE V SECRETARY OF STATE Jack Rains publicly kicked off his Voter 88 registration drive and what some suspect is also the beginning of his campaign to become governor in 1990. After a Dixieland jazz band had warmed up a crowd of several hundred guests in the Senate Chamber January 13, Rains told the crowd that Texas receives only $1.00 in federal services and contracts for each $1.59 paid in federal taxes. He suggested that higher voter turnout will result in more federal money spent here. “Not since reconstruction has Texas been so disadvantaged by federal policy,” Rains said. He added that it was easier to make a case for “sending aid to Yankees” when oil was selling for $35 a barrel. Rains’s message, minus the Yankee-bashing, will be heard around the state on commercial radio stations as public service announcements. But the usually friendly Rains bristled when a reporter asked about his political future and the political advantage of a high visibility voter registration campaign. “My job as Secretary of State is to run a registration campaign,” Rains said. “If you’ve got suggestions on a better way to do it, I’d welcome them.” Rains insisted that the registration campaign is a bipartisan effort to increase voting rolls in Texas. “I even brought Slagle and Strake together and I have a photographer here to prove it,” Rains said. Both State Democratic party chairman Bob Slagle and his Republican counterpart George Strake were present for the Voter 88 rally. Asked why the campaign was not directed at state offices, particularly the Department of Public Safety drivers license offices where new residents and address changes are registered, Rains said that there are not state funds available. “And the DPS,” he said, “didn’t want it. They testified against the bill.” “That’s not true,” Rep. Ernestine Glossbrenner, D-Alice, told the Observer. Glossbrenner chaired the House Elections Committee and supported a bill to provide voter registration in state offices. “The DPS was opposed to the language in the bill. When we changed it to make it [registration at DPS offices] permissible rather than mandatory,” Glossbrenner said, “they dropped their opposition and lowered their fiscal note [the projected cost associated with a piece of legislation] to zero.” According to one public interest lobbyist, the figures Rains projected for printing and postage on House Bill 2418, the voter registration bill promoted by Glossbrenner, were set so high that they discouraged legislative support. The bill reported out of the election committee by a straight 5-4 LOUIS DUBOSE Jack Rains partisan vote. “I was disturbed to see the Republican members of the committee looking to the secretary of state’s representatives for direction on voting in committee hearings,” Glossbrenner said. The current Voter 88 campaign is an extra-governmental program underwritten by corporate donations. V LLOYD DOGGETT SCORED an early victory in his race for a seat on the state Supreme Court when he persuaded former Vernon Congressman Jack Hightower to move his race to another court seat and avoid a divisive primary fight. Hightower has been campaigning since the spring for the court seat vacated by Justice Ted Z. Robertson, who is running for the chief justice position abandoned by John Hill. Some observers credit Attorney General Jim Mattox for bringing Hightower, and Doggett together. With Democratic Party chairman Bob Slagle away in Sherman, the two candidates met to resolve their differences. “They had a face-to-face standoff and Hightower blinked,” was how one party activist described it. Though Hightower has a statewide staff and has been in the campaign for months, some observers consider Doggett a stronger candidate. Doggett, the former state senator from Austin, is a plaintiffs’ attorney with a proconsumer record in the Senate. It is assumed that he will draw strong financial support from plaintiffs’ attorneys who perceive the Republican interest in the court as a continuation of the tort reform war fought in the last legislative session. Gov. Bill Clements demonstrated such thinking when he publicly attacked the court for its failure to consider the effects of its decisions on businesses in Texas. The court has a reputation among some in the business community as being pro-plaintiff/pro-consumer. Hightower will help the Democrats by providing what is perceived as a business conservative for the court. He faces no primary opponent but will run against Barbara Culver, a Republican district judge appointed by Clements this month to replace Justice Robert Campbell, whose unexpected resignation touched off the musical chairs between Democrats. One writer who follows the judiciary suggested that Culver is a less conservative candidate than Hightower and might appeal to some liberal Democratic voters. In the Democratic primary Doggett will face Judge Martha Anthony, described by Austin American Statesman political writer Dave McNeely as “a Houston district judge elected as a Republican . . . ranked lowest among Houston district judges in bar association polls.” V DOGGETT’S entering the court race will probably renew speculation on who will line up to replace Attorney General Jim Mattox if Mattox indeed runs for governor. Liberals fear a fratricidal race between Dallas Congressman John Bryant and Houston State Senator Craig Washington. Neither have run in statewide races and both have expressed their interest in the job. V SYNDICATED COLUMNISTS Rowland Evans and Robert Novak are betting on the People’s Lawyer to win the governor’s race. In a recent column they described Mattox as “combative and populistic,” representing “the new leftleaning face of Texas Democrats . . . far ahead in the early going for the 1990 nomination for governor.” The two columnists have Mattox leaning toward Sen. Paul Simon: “He hints that he and his fellow populist, Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower might endorse together maybe for Simon.” Evans and Novak had Mattox insisting that Al Gore’s Texas backers won’t be able to do it for the Tennessee Senator here. The AG sees Gore as unelectable but he showed up at a Gore endorsement gathering in the Lieutenant Governor’s conference room at the Capitol. Mattox spoke with Gore, who had just received the public endorsement of former Governor Dolph Briscoe and Dallas financier Jess Hay. The book on Mattox is that he rarely misses a political gathering of more than half a dozen and seems to thrive on pressthe-flesh and look’em-in-the-eye campaign ing. The Attorney General usually stakes out the door to catch them coming and going. Like Elvis, the man is everywhere. 10 JANUARY 29, 1988
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