union. He was instrumental in passing the “right-to-know” law two sessions ago and has the endorsement of the Sierra Club and the Texas Women’s Political Caucus. James M. Jackson, the Republican candidate, is president of Force Corp. and is likely to be overly sympathetic to business interests. We’ll go with Ed Watson. Republican hardliner Mike Toomey has given up his seat to work for the governor. There is little chance the seat will go Democratic, since it is packed as tight as a cummerbund on a banker with Republicans. Still, we admire Democrat Mary Burke for making the race. Limousine liberals, arise! Democrat Clint Hackney has given up his seat to run for the Railroad Commission. Sylvester Turner is the heir to the chair in this predominantly Democratic district. He is endorsed by the Texas Women’s Political Caucus. It is our hope that he will bring another strong voice to the House well as to the legislature. Central Texas Democrats have at least two good chances here to bump off Republican incumbents, especially if Central Texas sees a strong turnout for Dukakis at the top of the ticket. Rep. Randall Riley of Round Rock may have difficulty holding onto the seat he won in 1984. He is increasingly viewed as ineffective in the legislature his abiding concern seems to be with pleasing the business interests. He gets his political bearings from his participation in the family construction business. He introduced a measure to repeal the prevailing wage law and he once commented that the problem with trench site cave-ins might have something to do with the “fact” that 75 percent of construction workers come to work on drugs or alcohol. “He is always willing to bash us over the head,” says one unionist who has observed Riley’s performance. Parker McCollough, a Georgetown attorney who has labor’s endorsement, is a better choice for this district. Republican Anne Cooper of San Marcos faces an active challenge from Libby Linebarger of Manchaca. Linebarger is a private consultant, a former teacher and Texas Education Agency employee. In her campaign, she is focusing on education and has said that public education will be at the top of her agenda. She has good visibility in the district, good funding, and good volunteer support, and may well be able to deal the Republicans a setback. “She was out walking neighborhoods when it was a hundred degrees out,” says one Democratic observer. This was for many years a Democratic seat, admirably represented by Bob Barton of Kyle. Cooper is a moderate certainly not the worst of Republicans but Linebarger is criticizing her for, among other things, her failure to go to bat for fired Southwest Texas State President Robert Hardesty. Cooper did appear at the second San Marcos gathering where the firing of Hardesty, a popular administrator summarily dismissed by the Board of Regents, was debated. \(Hardesty was fired several hours According to Linebarger, Cooper should have taken the lead in the Hardesty case: “As a member of the party, she [Cooper] was in a perfect position to put some pressure on the Regents and the Governor. She failed to do so,” Linebarger said. Linebarger has demonstrated some rare political courage when she took Southwest Regents to task for their banning of the sale or distribution of contraceptives on the Southwest Texas campus. “It is a public health issue,” Linebarger said. “Not a moral issue. AIDS is a very real danger and the high number of teenage pregnancies is a problem.” The closest House race of 1986 took place in the 32nd district, where Republican Steve Holzheauser of Victoria was very nearly defeated by Janey Lack. Holzheauser again has a strong challenger in Democrat Glen Smith, a Victoria sportscaster who is wellknown in the area. Smith is no liberal, but he couldn’t possibly be as conservative as Holzheauser. In San Antonio, Democrat Karyne Conley is the obvious choice over Republican John Yost to replace retiring Rep. Lou Nelle Sutton. Sutton had slowed down over the years and Conley is sure to bring more active representation to the 120th district. Further south, down toward Pleasanton, Rep. Eldon Edge faces a challenge by Charlie Britsch, a Hondo Republican. Edge is an unassuming legislator with some populist instincts he voted last session against the insurance lobby on “tort reform” bills. He is strong on education issues. Britsch is a political newcomer who manages Peter Piper’s Pizza in Hondo. West Texas Our favorite West Texas conservative this year is Floyd Holder of Lubbock. Holder spent 20 years in the U.S. Army his expertise is in nuclear physics. Upon leaving the army he went to law school at Texas Tech and has since become a noted defense lawyer. Holder is a recent convert to the Democratic Party “I used to be a Republican when it was unpopular,” he says. But he switched parties when he became fed up with Reaganomics. Holder is a straight-shooter, a give-’em-hell type with a streak of contrariness. He’s not a liberal, but he’s something a maverick. He’s taken cases no one else in the Panhandle would touch, sometimes defending clients he suspected were victims of West Texas bigotry. He would certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the legislature, which is more than you can say about his predecessor, Republican Ron Givens. Holder is opposed by Delwin Jones of Lubbock, who served in the House from 1962 to 1972. Jones was the author of a Republican-oriented redistricting plan in 1971, so he is certainly one man to steer clear of as we move toward another redistricting period. But is Holder a “good Democrat”? He says he would not vote for a Republican Speaker and he would not vote for “any plan that would put in place Republican partisan advantage.” Another district that might turn Democratic if the winds blow right is District 67, formerly represented by Gerald Geistweidt, one of the most vocal of the House’s hardline conservative bloc. The election of David Currie would be a marked change for the better. Currie worked for four years under Jim Hightower at the Texas Department of Agriculture. While in the marketing and agricultural development division, he helped organize farmers’ markets, food producers’ conferences, and farm cooperatives. Currie is a Baptist minister who readily admits that “my style of politics is different than [Hightower’s]; Jim is more confrontational.” Because there is some backlash in the district to Hightower’s tough stance on pesticide regulation and his political endorsement of Jesse Jackson, Currie is tying himself to his friend and fellow sheep-raiser Senator Bill Sims of San Angelo, who is nothing if not a West Texas conservative. But Currie doesn’t apologize for his populist politics; he is certain he can represent the rural and middle class population better than his young Republican opponent, 28-year-old Harvey Hilderbran of Uvalde. Hilderbran has worked for Amarillo Congressman Beau Boulter and has been a lobbyist for the Farm Bureau. He has also worked to elect Democratic Congressman Albert Bustamante an item, according to Currie, Hilderbran likes to cite to his Mexican American audiences but not to the rock-ribbed Republican citizens. And, make no mistake: the 67th has been a Republican stronghold. Kerr and Gillespie Counties, Currie admits, are about as Republican a territory as you can find anywhere in the state. But Currie is working hard. “If a Democrat can win it, I’m gonna win it,” he says. We endorse David Counts, a real estate and insurance agent from Knox, in the hope that he will emulate the progressive style of Steve Carriker of Roby, who was elected in August to the state Senate. We would like to see Democrat Mark Bragg of Amarillo claim the Republican seat of retiring Rep. Chip Staniswallis. Bragg’s father has been a coordinator for Hightower; Bragg, the younger, is said to be the kind of Democrat who is not afraid to stand up for his party. Bob Junell of San Angelo is a good candidate to replace retiring Democrat Dick Burnett. In El Paso, we endorse Nick Perez for reelection, hoping he will improve on the performance of his first two terms. Perez has had his share of personal problems and THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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