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almost impossible to defeat. I IT’S ALL BUT official that Harris County Treasurer Nikki Van Hightower is a candidate for State Treasurer. Van Hightower cannot announce her candidacy until January, unless she resigns her present post, but sources close to Van Hightower say that she will enter the race. Houston stockbroker and Democratic Party activist Karen Friend has already announced her intention to run for the position to be vacated by Ann Richards. But most now see the race as a contest between two yet unannounced candidates: Van Hightower and party activist and lawyer Steve Gutow of Dallas. g/f LUFKIN Congressman Charlie Wilson continues to set fundraising records. According to the public interest group Common Cause, Wilson, who sits on the defense appropriations subcommittee, holds the daily record for honoraria income. On February 1, Common Cause claims, Wilson was paid $11,000 by six defense contractors, including General Dynamics, LTV, McDonnell Douglas Helicopter, and Northrop. Later in the month Wilson collected $7,000 more from four other defense contractors while others in the industry paid for his transportation, hotels, and travels for eight days. V NATIONAL WOMEN’S Political Caucus President, Irene Natividad was quoted in the August 5 Washington Post as stating in St. Paul Minn. that the caucus will concentrate on defeating anti-abortion legislative candidates in ten states, Texas not among them. The caucus will focus on gubernatorial contests in four states, California, Texas, Massachusetts, and Iowa, where women who favor abortion rights are candidates for governor. V OREGON Democrat Les AuCoin described a recent House vote as the beginning of a new political era. “You will now be held accountable in ways you’ve never been held accountable before,” AuCoin said, urging House members to vote against an anemdment to bar the District of Columbia from using public funds for abortions. The no-funding provision, which did not even include the standard exception to permit abortion in if woman’s life were in danger, failed 222-186 after several days of intensive lobbying. The Aug. 2 defeat of the anti-abortion measure was the first Congressional vote on abortion since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Webster case. Had the amendment passed, it would have prohibited the expenditure of federal and District of Colombia money on abortion or abortion-related services. Texans voting against imposing the restrictions were Democrats Mike Andrews, Jack Brooks, John Bryant, Albert Bustamante, Jim Chapman, Ronald Coleman, Kika de la Garza, Martin Frost, Henry Gonzalez, Mickey Leland, Jake Pickle, and Charles Wilson. Texas Democrats voting to impose abortion restrictions were Ralph Hall, Greg Laughlin, Marvin Leath, Solomon Ortiz, Bill Sarpalius, and Charles Stenholm. All Texas Republicans in the House voted for the restrictions. They are Bill Archer, Dick Armey, Steve Bartlett, Joe Barton, Larry Combpst, Tom DeLay, and Lamar Smith. V DALLAS CONGRESSMAN John Bryant, a candidate for Texas Attorney General, was chosen some time back for the thankless task of prosecuting in the U.S. Senate, on behalf of the U.S. House, the impeachment of Federal Judge Alcee L. Hastings in an attempt to remove Hastings from the bench. Hastings was cleared of bribery charges in a trial which gave rise to the 413-3 House vote to impeach. Some civil rights figures Louis Farrakhan, Roy Innis, and Al Sharpton have defended Hastings by alleging that he is being persecuted because he is black. Rhetorically, Bryant asked the Washington Post, “What if you have a judge who commits perjury and who subverts the judicial process to obtain an acquittal and the evidence is plain that he did that?” The Senate will probably vote on the Hastings impeachment after the summer recess. JEFF RUOFF Ag Commissioner Jim Hightower fro” JIM HARRINGTON, the Texas Civil Liberties Union attorney who, along with Advocacy Inc. co-counsel Deborah Hiser won a $505,000 jury verdict last spring on behalf of Opal Petty, who had been wrongly confined in state mental institutions for 51 years, was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice. Harrington was recognized by the Washington-based group for his litigation victo ries on behalf of farmworkers, police brutality victims, and Ms. Petty. V AG COMMISSIONER Jim Hightower has already defeated two Republican “chicken men” with ties to the poultry industry. Now Brownfield agri-businessman Gene Duke makes his debut in statewide politics by announcing that he is running for commissioner of agriculture. Duke is the first Republican to oficially announce for the post held by the populist Democrat seeking his third term. While Duke claims to “have no beef” with Hightower, he contends that his own background in feed milling, consulting, and marketing provides the professional experience in agriculture that Hightower lacks. Former Dallas Cowboy running back \(and was rumored to be approached by Republican recruiters looking for a candidate to field against Hightower, and Bill Powers, the poultry lobbyist that Hightower dubbed Chicken Man II, is also said to be gearing up for another race for the Republican nomination. With that many candidates in a Republican primary, the race could be foul. V DON’T LOOK for consumer advocacy at the top of the agenda of the nine-member panel assembled by Governor Bill Clements, House Speaker Gib Lewis, and Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby to explore restructuring of the beleaguered three-member Public Utility Commission. The panel is directed by former PUCer Moak Rollins, who currently works as a utility consultant. Three other panel members, Sugar Land Rep. Jim Tallas, Hale Center Rep. Pete Laney, and Lubbock Democratic Senator John Montford all generally vote the utility line. And Sweetwater Democratic Senator Temple Dickson’s law firm has a friendly relationship with utility interests. Listed among the clients of Moore, Dickson, Roberts & Ratliff, in the firm’s Texas Legal Directory ad, are Texas Utilities and Union Pacific Railway. All three Senators serving on the panel, Montford, Dickson, and Kent Caperton voted to confirm Clement’s appointments Marta Greytok and Bill Casin as PUC commissioners despite strong protests by consumer activists who opposed both appointments. V AMES, IOWA just could be the place where Senator Lloyd Bentsen unofficially kicks off his campaign for the 1992 Democratic Presidential nomination. Bentsen is scheduled to speak at the Ames Jefferson-Jackson Day celebration an event where many pre-candidates for the Presidency have appeared in the past. Democratic Chairman Ron Brown advanced the Bentsen candidacy at the AFL-CIO convention in Austin, saying that he hopes that Bentsen will run in 1992. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13