Election Wrap-up AT A PRESS conference on the Wednesday after the election Gov. Bill Clements wanted to talk about good news. And he had plenty to talk about. With the Governor were the three Republican Justices elected to the Supreme Court, and Railroad Commissioner Kent Hance the only four Republicans, other than Clements, to ever win election to statewide office. It was, as the Governor described it, a historic election for Texas Republicans. But did it represent realignment? Is the ascendent Republican Party capable of becoming the majority party in Texas? An assessment of Republican gains in the legislature would provide the best answer to the realignment question. But that was one aspect of the election that the Governor didn’t want to discuss. So when a reporter asked about extremely modest Republican gains in the state House and Senate, the Governor chose to circumvent the question then challenged the press to write something about Republican advances. And in terms of numbers, Republicans gained some ground in the legislature: two seats in the 31-member Senate and one seat in the 150-member House. But hidden in the electoral arithmetic is some good news for Texas Democrats and perhaps even for liberal Democrats. Does this mean a progressive House and Senate? Hardly. But consider the changes: In the Senate, Republicans gained two seats. East Texas engineer Bill Ratliff s defeat of Democrat Richard Anderson will make a difference particularly on public interest votes. Anderson was recognized last year by consumer groups who awarded him their TOPS \(Texas his support of consumer legislation. And though there is some speculation that Ratliff’s record probably won’t be as bad as his campaign portended, on issues like insurance reform, utility rates, and loan shark regulation he won’t be there. Anderson was. He lost by a margin of 3,212 votes out of 169,399 cast. The other Republican gain was Teel Bivins’s more substantial 34,705 vote defeat of Mel Phillips, in a contest to replace Democrat Bill Sarpalius. Sarpalius, whose every career advance seems a violation of the Peter Principle, now goes on to Congress where 434 colleagues will serve the important function of diluting his incompetence far better than could his 30 colleagues in the Texas Senate. His replacement by Bivins, a T. Boone Pickens associate from Amarillo, is hardly good news. But in terms of votes on the floor and obstructionism in committee it shouldn’t represent a great change. Steve Carriker’s 30,000-vote win in District 30 where Ray Farabee resigned to go to work for the University of Texas advances a solid populist Democrat from the House into the Senate. And Temple Dickson’s replacing Grant Jones will make a difference, as well. Jones was a conservative Dixiecrat type who had evolved into the Senate’s finance technocrat. His Democratic primary defeat, by Sweetwater plaintiffs’ attorney Dickson, represents real progress in the Senate as it alters the landscape of the Finance Committee where Jones was chairman. Dickson had no opponent in the general election. Bill Haley, a moderate if unpredictable Democrat from Center, replaces retiring Senator Roy Blake and this could also be something of an improvement in the Senate. Haley, a teacher and former chair of the House Committee on Public Education, is well-versed on education issues and could make a difference in POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE // JUST IN TIME to recapitalize on television’s return to Camelot is Big John’s return to political life. The best political rumor circulating in Houston has natural gas magnate Oscar Wyatt promoting the return of John Connally to the Governor’s mansion. One source has Wyatt leaning on friends for money to get a Connally-forGovernor movement off the ground. In other Connally news, Time magazine was on the newsstands with a new theory on the Kennedy assassination: Lee Harvey Oswald’s intended target may have been the Texas Governor instead of the President. PRE-CANDIDATES with designs on Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire’s job are emerging and Houston Councilmember Rodney Ellis and former Mayor Fred Hofheinz are both at the top of several lists. Ellis, a black councilman, and Hofheinz, an attorney who served two terms as mayor in the mid-1970s, might both have a chance to attract the black vote that has always been an essential part of Whitmire’s electoral constituency. And both Ellis and Hofheinz have openly discussed their interest in running for mayor. Ellis recently got a month of free media by campaigning with Senator Lloyd Bentsen and would probably be supported by Houston Congressman Mickey Leland, whose 18th Congressional district is situated in the heart of the city. Hofheinz, Houston’s first liberal mayor, inherited a poorly served and undertaxed city when he defeated Louie Welch in 1973. Hofheinz was the first mainstream mayoral candidate to campaign in Houston’s black community. The Dallas Morning News reported that a poll conducted by University of Houston pollster Richard Murray found Whitmire’s positive job rating slipping from 56 percent last year to 46 percent this October. Whitmire has said she will run for a fifth term in 1989. /// AN ISSUE CANDIDACY beginning in Bryan has English Firster Lou Zaeske launching a two-year campaign against state Senator Kent Caperton. Zaeske, an engineer and a co-founder of any wrongdoing in connection with Nassau Life, his attorney would not respond to questions from the Observer. The courtappointed New Mexico lawyer now representing Cowart first refused to discuss the case on the telephone and then failed to respond to a written set of questions sent by certified mail. Meanwhile Robert Chappell, author of Secrets of Offshore Tax Havens, is residing at taxpayer expense in the federal penitentiary at Sandstone, Minnesota. According to Ramon Butts, Chappell was arrested in late 1986, after being a fugitive for about three years. His current incarceration for mail fraud stems from a 1982 conviction and is unrelated to Nassau Life Insurance Co. Investigator Jay Oman says the State of Texas will seek Chappell’s removal to Dallas to answer the new indictments against him. 16 DECEMBER 9, 1988
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.