POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE //I “I WAS BORN and raised in East Texas,” state Derriocratic Party Chairman Bob Slagle told the Washington Post during the conference of Democratic governors at Phoenix on the weekend of Nov. 19-20. “I know racism when I see it. I went to segregated schools until I got to law school. And I will go to my grave believing that had Willie Horton been white and raped a black woman, we would have never seen a single Republican ad. We know the Republicans tried to appeal to the worst in us. And we know we as a party must appeal to the best in us.” V BILLIE CARR, member of the Democratic National Committee and liberal leader in Houston, is leaning toward Rick Weiner of Detroit for national party chairman to succeed Paul Kirk. She also believes Jim Hightower is not likely to be challenged for the Democrats’ 1990 U.S. Senate nomination against Phil Gramm, although she adds that if Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby gets the itch to continue in public life, he might get in. “Hobby apparently would like to be a Senator,” Carr said. Bob Bullock, the Comptroller, running to succeed Hobby as lieutenant governor, raised a million dollars at a fundraiser in Austin the first weekend in December. Elna Christopher, press secretary to Atny. Gen. Jim Mattox, said that as of early December Mattox had “$3 million in the bank” for his 1990 governor’s race. Carr said she understands that State Treasurer Ann Richards has collected $1 million. In Fort Worth on Dec. 2, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Richards told a group of women supporters that she will need between $12 and $15 million to get elected governor in 1990. yor POLITICAL consultants George Shipley and Ken Bryan get some of the credit for the defeat of Republican Congressman Mac Sweeney, one of only five House incumbents to be bumped off in this year’s election. Only a Georgia Republican, facing indictment, lost by a greater margin than Sweeney. Freelance writer Craig Donegan, in an article that appeared in the San Antonio Express-News, claims that Sweeney’s abundant hubris laid the groundwork for his defeat and that Bryan and Shipley taught Laughlin to play hardball and helped him defeat the two-term incumbent. Donegan characterizes Sweeney as arrogant and more interested in advancing his own political career than his constituents’ political agenda. v NOT EVERYONE is giving the nod to Shipley and Bryan, however. Some see Sweeney’s deplorable record on envi ronmental issues as a big part of the electoral equation. Sweeney’s seven percent rating on environmental votes, his failure to follow the local lead in a Wharton County fight against a huge underground toxic waste disposal project, and his votes on consumers’ right-to-know legislation proved unpopular with constituents. But it was Clean Water Action, a Washington-based grassroots environmental group, that got the word out on Sweeney’s record. They also turned out the vote, coordinating their own phonebanks, blockwalkers and mailouts. In areas where CWA concentrated their effort, vote percentages were telling. In 1986 in Anderson Mill, north of Austin, Sweeney defeated Laughlin by a 51-47 percent margin. In 1988 those totals were dramatically reversed with Sweeney losing to Laughlin by a 38-63 margin. Similar patterns occurred in Georgetown which Sweeney carried by 54-44 percent in 1986 and lost 40-59 in 1988. V CLEAN WATER Action compiled an impressive record in their first Texas general election, where they went three-forthree. As well as working to elect Greg Laughlin to Congress, they worked on campaigns of representatives-elect Parker McCollough and Libby Linebarger both defeated Republican incumbents. By working campaigns close to their recently opened Austin office, CWA didn’t overextend itself. And in Williamson County, north of Austin, they doubled their organizational efforts by working on McCollough’s state legislative campaign in a district that overlapped the 14th Congressional District where they went after Republican Mac Sweeney. v TRAVIS COUNTY Republican Representative Terral Smith’s talks with the Bush transition team about an appointment as director of the Environmental Protection Agency have drawn mixed reviews from Texas environmentalists. Jim Marston, the Austin attorney who directs Clean Water Action, said that as a legislator, Smith has a reputation of listening to the concerns of environmental activists. But Smith’s limited leadership experience, and his role in local environmental affairs, is something less than what should be required to direct the EPA, according to Karen Metchis, executive director of the Clear Clean Colorado River Association. “He really isn’t known for any substantial environmental protection programs locally and he really has very little stature as a leader in environmental policy,” Metchis told the Austin American-Statesman. Metchis said that Smith had weakened the City of Austin’s watershed ordinance by supporting legislation that provides appeals to the state water commission. Metchis also argued that Smith undermined the Barton Springs Aquifer District by cutting a deal to fund it with user fees rather than property taxes. In the past, Smith has received favorable reviews from Sierra Club state director Ken Kramer. Some have speculated that Bush is engaging in a bit of image building for Smith, flying him to Washington and floating his name out as a potential EPA administrator, with no intention of naming one so inexperienced to the EPA post. v SOUTH TEXAS state Senator Judith Zaffirini is mentioned as a postreapportionment candidate foi Congress if South Texas gets one of four new congressional seats as a result of the 1990 census. Zaffirini, a Laredo Democrat, has almost nowhere else to go politically if not to Congress. A prospective congressional seat for Houston is also suspected to be the reason behind the primary fight between Houston City Councilmember Ben Reyes and Houston Democratic state Rep. Al Luna. Reyes, who was becoming something of a kingmaker in Houston, lost some stature when his sixtysomething candidate was defeated by younger incumbent Luna in a bitter primary fight to unseat the incumbent representative. V THE SCENE: Garry Mauro Appreciation Night at the Doubletree Hotel in Austin. Hundreds had come out on December 6 for the Land Commissioner’s fundraiser, some from as far away as Texarkana and El Paso. Mauro treated them to a longwinded Garry Mauro promotional speech, which had much of the crowd sedated in minutes. After droning on for perhaps a quarter of an hour, Mauro created a small stir when he said, “If I had to make a decision tonight I don’t but if I had to make a decision tonight, I would seek the office of attorney general in 1990.” He continued: “Because as attorney general I could have impact on that broad range of issues that I care about, that you care about. Think of it. The attorney general’s energy division deals directly with the legal ramifications of our clean air, natural gas initiatives. By the same token, the attorney general’s environmental protection division: their caseload reflects directly on beach and ocean pollution. You know, I don’t often admit it, but I am a lawyer. A lawyer and a manager with a proven record of making state government work. . . . But elected politics is only the means to a higher end. By that I mean, my approach is that of a problem-solver . . .” ZZzzzzzzzz. . . THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21
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