The MAD Endorsement Corpus Christi EARLY SUNDAY MORNING, a week before representatives of the 3,000member Mexican American Democrats convened at the Wyndham Hotel here, Attorney General Jim Mattox was on the Town Lake jogging trail in downtown Austin. Turning east at the Mopac footbridge, and slowing to a brisk walk, Mattox, Who is campaigning for governor even during a chance encounter with a writer on a Sunday-morning run, said he wanted to make a prediction about the convention in Corpus Christi. “Ann Richards can’t get the endorsement,” Mattox said. “So she and Mark White are going to do everything they can to keep me from getting it?” Would he prevail? “Well, I don’t know,” Mattox said \(or something very close to “Well, I don’t know.” My reporter’s notebook was somewhere on my desk at the Observer hard to get when you have three candidates.” Waving or nodding at the westbound joggers and walkers who recognized and greeted him, Mattox continued to explain that he knew he would easily win a simple majority at both the MAD and the COPE \(the AFL-CIO Committee on Political voting would be conducted in the open and the results made available to the public, even a simple majority would be something of a victory. But Mattox said he was not after a simple majority. He was determined to pursue aggressively the two-thirds required for endorsement. Six days later, dressed in a dark business suit and standing outside a meeting room on the third floor of the Wyndham Hotel, “a Trammell Crow development on Corpus Christi Bay, Mattox joked with reporters while he continued to advance the argument he had made a week earlier. “They [Richards and White] don’t want a straightup vote because they know they can’t win . . . they know that all they can do is block my endorsement . . . Go ask those people what they’ve got against the democratic process.” The other two candidates had made their luncheon speeches and gone on to other commitments. But Jim Mattox was going to be there until MAD Chair Nora Linares gaveled the convention to its end and then for a while longer. MEETING BEHIND CLOSED doors, the MAD candidate-screening com mittee, which Mattox supporters claimed was dominated by Richards supporters, had proposed co-endorsing the three Democratic candidates for Governor. And on Friday evening, after the public candidate-screening sessions ended, and before the committee adjourned its closed-door session on the nominations, each member took a pledge not to reveal the committee’s co-endorsement recommendation until the vote in plenary session on Saturday afternoon. By early Saturday morning, Mattox and Richards delegates were openly feuding over the co-endorsement proposal. By Saturday afternoon the Mattox delegation’s tactics became clear. They had the numbers in delegate strength present, and would not accept a co-endorsement, nor a proposal to vote on what Mattox called a “multifarious question, according to Robert’s Rules of Order.” The question described was a tripleoption ballot choice that included a vote for Mattox, a vote for Richards, or a coendorsement of the three Democratic candidates. And then, for one frozen moment on the third-floor of the Wyndham Hotel late Saturday afternoon, the terms of the debate were personified, as Attorney General Jim Mattox confronted, frente a frente, Austin Rep. Lena Guerrero. Mattox stood lboking down at Guerrero who has been playing an important part in the Richards campaign and Guerrero, with the index finger of one hand, enumerated Mattox’s options on three fingers of her other hand. When Mattox leaned forward to make his argument, Guerrero stood resolute. The little-noticed confrontation was a small portent of what would follow once the floor fight began. Because the story of the MAD convention was very much a story of Ann Richards supporter Lena Guerrero’s resolve against Jim Mattox’s determination. Guerrero challenged every parliamentary move the dominant Mattox delegation attempted losing on every count but the last one, by which Mattox fell 22 votes short of the endorsement. And the odds were not exactly in Guerrero’s favor. On Friday night before the plenary session, Ruben and Tony Bonilla, both leaders in the local MexicanAmerican community and former national presidents of the League of United Latin Bonilla Plaza and the Bonilla law offices for a Jim-Mattox-for-Governor party. At noon on Saturday, Corpus Christi Senator Carlos Truan held a press conference to endorse Mattox and publicly embrace Mattox. Later the same afternoon, one of the founders and the first Chairman of Mexican American Democrats, who was also the first Chairman of the Hispanic Legislative Caucus, former San Antonio Senator Joe Bernal, stood on the convention floor to speak on behalf of Mattox. And then, vote by vote, the Mattox delegation began to move in the direction of the endorsement. The vote by which they took control of the convention was a simple one. Procedural disputes, according to MAD’s bylaws, can be resolved by a simple majority of those present. And the Mattox delegation had the majority, and therefore, parliamentary control of the meeting. \(“Procedure has always been decided by chapter-strength votes,” Gilbert Rodriguez, a Richards supporter and member of an Abilene MAD chapter protested after the A vote on a minority report from the candidate-screening committee determined that instead of a co-endorsement vote, a straight-up vote on the three Democratic gubernatorial candidates would be held. Then over Guerrero’s protestations, the convention amended the bylaws and permit a runoff if no candidate received a two-thirds majority on the first vote. “If they are going to give them that, they’ll give them everything,” Guerrero said as she watched the vote from a small command post that she and Aurora Sanchez had organized on the north side of the meeting room. short of two-thirds on the first vote, Tom Walker and Mark Campos, both from White’s camp, caucused with Richards delegates to try to find a way to stop a swarm of Mattox-campaign floor leaders from picking up votes needed to prevail. Mattox, all the while, worked the floor, at times alone and at times accompanied by MAD delegates. “Let me tell you about Jim Mattox,” MAD at-large delegate Paul Rich said to Jesse Moran, a Richards ,supporter and County Commissioner candidate from Uvalde. “You don’t need to tell me anything about Jim Mattox. I know all about him,” Moran responded to Rich and to Mattox, who stood directly in front of them. As Moran walked toward his chapter caucus to vote, he said he remained committed to Richards. On the final vote, when it was evident that Mattox was some 20 votes short of the majority, his supporters stalled, holding the vote open, while Guerrero implored Chair Nora Linares to end the voting, arguing that it was unfair to continue. After Linares closed the vote and called Rafael Quintanilla, an attorney working in the attorney general’s office, seized the mike and passed it down to Mattox, who thanked the MAD convention for its support. On the floor, Guerrero held an impromptu press conference, claiming the Mattox campaign had “tried to buy the endorsement” by paying the expenses of Mattox 4 JANUARY 26, 1990
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