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Attorney General I’ll Take Morales Dan Morales deserves his due. This threeterm legislator from San Antonio and candidate for attorney general is no liberal paragon. He is not a populist hero or a tireless crusader. He is an ambitious career politician who has demonstrated some political guts on behalf of the working people of Texas. It is true that Morales is a conservative on criminal justice matters. To further his criminal justice agenda, he has formed alliances with the likes of Republican Buster Brown, the state senator and candidate for attorney general. He recently backed Proposition 10, an odious measure approved by voters in November that allows the Legislature, in effect, to curtail the rights of defendants. The Morales criminal justice agenda often reflects a disregard for individual rights. If the attorney general had broad prosecutorial powers, the conservative side of Dan Morales would be of concern. But the attorney general’s role in criminal prosecutions is so limited that Morales will rarely if ever have the opportunity to flex his prosecutorial muscle on criminal justice matters. His criminal justice record might play a signifi cant role in the campaign; the people seem to demand tough-on-crime prosecutor types to fill the role of the state’s top lawyer. But governance and reality are another matter. In areas of substantive concern, in areas where an attorney general actually has some clout, Morales’s record is more agreeable. Morales has pledged to represent the consumer and the public interest on such important issues as insurance reform, utility regulation, and education reform. As a representative, he has supported indigent-health care measures, the enforcement of groundwater standards, the rights of gays, insurance reform, and workers’ rights. He is on the record in support of continuing the good work current Attorney General Jim Mattox has accomplished in such areas as anti-trust litigation and reform of the utilities. While other statewide candidates skirt the income tax issue, Morales remains open to it. “With regard to criminal justice issues, I would say it probably is a fair characterization of my voting record and my positions to say I am a conservative,” Morales said in an Observer interview. “But in terms of broad consideration of non-criminal justice issues I think the only fair and objective way to char acterize my record is of a progressive record.” In his tenure in the House, Morales’s highprofile criminal justice record has fueled intense criticism of the candidate. Morales is aware that he is not well-liked in some progressive circles. In the Observer interview, he attempted to dispel this image and insisted that liberal-minded Democrats examine his record more closely. Perhaps Morales, a charming, Harvard-educated lawyer, wanted to use the Observer interview to appear more liberal than he is. Maybe Morales needs the support of a liberal constituency to secure the nomination. But the Morales record does reflect a man committed to many of the principles the Observer has over the years steadfastly supported. He is pro-choice despite his roots in a Catholic culture. In a conservative state, this is a candidate who went on the record as leftleaning and progressive. He is eager to talk about taxation in responsible terms. And he appears sincere in representing the interests of the working class. A.F. Senate Endorsements Six Critical Choices Should a conservative Republican such as Clayton Williams or and here I place a black rag on my head as I write Kent Hance be elected governor, the Senate will continue to serve as the firewall between the people of Texas and legislation and appointments that are often nothing less than pernicious. When the Senate fails to protect the public from bad legislation, which often gains momentum as it moves through the House, or from appointments offered up by the Governor, the results can be disastrous. And bad public policy is not unlike the woman’s love described by a father to a dejected son in a Larry McMurtry novel: It’s like the morning dew, “as likely to settle on a horse’s turd as a rose.” Ultimately, it affects all of us. The recently enacted workers’ comp bill is one such example. Working people in the state will, as the law takes effect during the next two years, begin to understand what they 6 FEBRUARY 23, 1990 lost. And a look at electric bills in many regions of the state will confirm that the public lost a great deal when the Senate approved the appointments of Public Utility Commissioners Marta Greytok and Bill Cassin. Fifteen Senate seats are up for election this year. Of those, six involve contested races in the Democratic primary. Bryan Democrat Kent Caperton’s departure will result in a loss of enlightened leadership. Caperton had the respect and trust of Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby and was known to be a reasonable moderate-to-progressive member of the body. It was Caperton, along with Port Arthur Senator Carl Parker, who led the almostsuccessful fight against workers’-comp reform in the recent special session. And two years ago it was Caperton holding the line against tort reform. If Caperton is replaced by Republican Rep. Richard Smith again the black rag then Caperton’s loss to the Senate will be measured exponentially. Smith carried the water for big business on workers’ . comp, steadfastly refused any attempts at compromise, and generally voted against progressive, consumer, and labor issues when they made it to the House floor. Beside all of that he is an odious and unpleasant fellow. Two Democrats are involved in a close race to replace Smith. Jim Turner, a former House Member and now mayor of Crockett, and Ron DeLord, president of a law enforcement association. Turner generally voted with the rural conservative bloc as a House member and more recently was one of several attorneys on the losing side of the landmark Edgewood v. Kirby education-finance lawsuit. Turner represented intervening school districts opposed to equity in funding among the state’s 1066 public school districts. Ron DeLord is a former law enforcement officer, attorney, and president of CLEAT, the statewide law-officers’ professional association