POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE 1/1 FORMER GOVERNOR Mark White is regarded by insiders as a likely candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1990. We understand White has been phoning around the state asking people to keep their powder dry that is, not to pledge to either Jim Mattox or Ann Richards until they hear further from White. The effects White’s candidacy might have on Mattox and Richards are now the topic of active reflection and speculation in the campaign planning for the latter two. // IN AN ASSAY of Lloyd Bentsen as a possible Presidential candidate in 1992, Jim Naughton wrote in the Washington Post last month that Bentsen had been “making a cautious assessment of his presidential chances,” but said, “I’m not taking it seriously.” Naughton also quoted Bentsen saying that he learned from playing poker that “you have to be willing to go for it, and not look just for the sure thing.” Senator George Mitchell, D-Maine, the Senate majority leader, was quoted on Bentsen: “I think he is a prime candidate” cratic National Chairman, said: “Whether out for dinner or on the tennis courts or talking over business, Lloyd Bentsen is fiat.” Naughton noted that Bentsen received just a 40 percent approval rating from Americans for Democratic Action in the 100th Congress, putting him “32 points below the Democratic average and eight points below the average of the Senate as a whole. His ascendancy has meant tax breaks for oil, gas, and real estate interests. [He] opposes gun control and stands to the hawkish side of center on defense and foreign policy issues. He is also a favorite of corporate lobbyists. . . . Bentsen has received more money from political action committees than anyone in the Senate.” On the other hand, Naughton said, Bentsen, while advocating an aggressive stand on crime, wants Democrats to appeal to the old New Deal coalition, stressing Social Security and Medicare as Democratic achievements. In three paragraphs, Naughton counterposed two views on Bentsen as the Democrats’ 1992 nominee \(which, as reported in “Observations” previously [TO, ” ‘The left wing of the party may not be totally happy with a Lloyd Bentsen, but I can’t tell you how tired I and other Democrats are of losing,’ says Barbara Jordan, who worked against Bentsen in the 1970 Senate primary [in which Bentsen defeated Ralph Yarborough]. ‘So we may have to do things that are not 100 percent ideologically pure. There may be certain people and ideas we need to support because they are pragmatic and command a majority.’ “Ronnie Dugger, publisher of the Texas Observer, the bible of Lone Star populism, says that Jordan is proposing a formula for defeat. ‘The idea that he should inherit the mantle of leadership is, to me, absurd. The conservative Strauss and Bentsen strategy lost, and lost Texas in the last election. ” ‘People say Bentsen is beautifully positioned, but Bentsen has been beautifully positioned for years. Will you please tell me what remarkable [things] Bentsen had done before catastrophic health care?’ ” voi IN A LETTER of support, Ralph Yarborough endorsed Comptroller Bob Bullock in the upcoming race for lieutenant governor. Bullock and his likely opponent, state Senator Chet Edwards of Duncanville, both spoke at the Ralph Yarborough benefit dinner sponsored by the Observer on May 23. Bullock held a Capitol press conference shortly after the end of the regular session of the legislature, announcing that he has the support of 17 of the 23 Democratic members of the Senate. Edwards held a news conference the same day charging that Bullock was emerging as the candidate of the politicos and the insiders and that he would be running a campaign to appeal to the ordinary folk. Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Kaye Northcott suggested recently that Edwards should not be counted out in the race for Lt. Gov. She described Bullock as having “a lot of warts. He’s a five-times-married recovered alcoholic with old and strong ties to wheeler-dealer Clinton Manges.” She described Edwards as a “polite, earnest and idealistic Dudley Doright whose strikingly handsome visage appears so frequently and effectively on the TV news.” vi SO WHO ARE the six Democratic Senators who didn’t line up with Bullock? Edwards, of course, was one. The other five brave souls: Kent Caperton of Bryan, Ted Lyon of Rockwall, Hugh Parmer of Fort Worth, Carlos Truan of Corpus Christi, and Hector Uribe of Brownsville. Parmer’s absence is interesting in light of the fact that when he announced his bid for a U.S. Senate seat in March Bullock was standing at his side in the state Senate chamber. Parmer also had been thought to be a possible candidate for the lieutenant governor’s race before his decision to take on Phil Gramm for Senate. vi IN THE WAY that politicians in an earlier day might have boasted of the support of political bosses and kingmakers, candi dates nowadays boast of their high-quality pollsters and media consultants. Chet Edwards released a statement in June announcing that he had hired the national polling firm of Cooper, Seacrest and Associates, headed by Alan Seacrest. The statement quoted Seacrest saying Edwards “is well positioned to embarrass the conventional wisdom and score a major upset over Bob Bullock.” Said Edwards, “CSA’s track record for working with longshot winners is tremendous. With Alan Seacrest working closely with [Austin consultant] Dean Rindy I believe I have compiled a great campaign strategy team. Meanwhile, the Ann Richards for Governor campaign released a statement announcing that it had “signed up the media consulting firm with the best record of either major political party.” That firm is SquierEskew Communications, led by Bob Squier, whose past clients include Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, former Virginia Gov. Charles Robb, and former Florida Gov. Bob Graham. //1 ONE OF THE MOST popular lapel buttons worn around the Capitol on the closing days of the session said, MATTOX THREATENS ME, Too. It was an apparent reference to Attorney General Jim Mattox’s hard-knocks political style. Democrats sympathetic to Ann Richards took to the button, but one of the first people wearing it was Killeen Rep. Stan Schlueter, a conservative Democrat whose measure to restrict future attorneys general from running for higher office \(which Mattox the Senate. V’ THE DECISION by Land Commissioner Garry Mauro to run for reelection rather than running for attorney general can be taken as good news by Democrats, at least in one respect: the land commissioner is one of the five members of the Legislative Redistricting Board, which could play a crucial role in redrawing political lines in 1991 if the issue isn’t settled by the legislature during regular session. The state Republican party would like to have a voice on the board, but they’ll need to win at the top of the ballot to get it. Mauro now seems a good bet to hold his position, as does Speaker of the House Gib Lewis. The other three officials on the redistricting board are the attorney general, the comptroller, and the lieutenant governor. The Republicans’ best shot may be at winning the race for comptroller which former Houston Rep. Mike Toomey \(now an aide to Gov. Democrats will have a strong contender in John Sharp, the former state Senator and THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15
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