POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE WHO WOULD be, so unfair as to characterize Republican ag commissioner candidate Rick Perry as just another cute face and a tight pair of Levis? Perry might not yet have come out with a statement on what the pricing mechanisms and quality-control standards included in the proposed GATT agreement will mean for Texas farmers, ranchers, and consumers, but he is on top of foreign policy issues. Perry issued a press release linking his opponent, Jim Hightower, to “Saddem [sic] Hussein, the butcher-dictator of Baghdad.” Hightower apparently had acKasem, an Arab-American best known for his weekly radio program, American Top 40. Kasem, who is also known for his pro-Palestinian-rights advocacy, was reported as having criticized President Bush’s decision to send troops to Saudi Arabia. “Give the money back, Jim, and show you support the President’s policy and back our American soldiers, sailors, and airmen in the Middle East,” Perry said through a press spokesperson. And Hightower has said of Perry that he had no issues to run on? Go figure. THE HIGHTOWERcampaign, meanwhile, released polling results that show the incumbent agriculture commissioner holding a 48-26 percent statewide lead over Perry. The figures, from a Mason-Dixon poll of 821 likely voters, show, according to the Hightower campaign, that Hightower has a three-to-one lead in name identification across the state. One Democratic party insider who usually keeps a finger on voting demographics predicts Hightower and comptroller candidate John Sharp, a railroad commissioner, will run well ahead of the ticket. Sharp also sounds like a good bet, since not even the Young Conservatives of Texas will endorse Harding. All Harding has, according to the Young Conservatives quoted in Sam Kinch’s Texas Weekly, is a “famous attention-getting name.” They have endorsed Sharp. HE MAY NOT have the name, but according to The Wall Street Journal, Lufkin Democratic Congressman Charlie Wilson has the face. The Journal describes Wilson as “sometimes” looking “like the French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo plunked down in a hot Texas summer ….” \(They use artists, apparently is heating up Charlie Wilson’s summer. Peterson, a 30-year-old West Point graduate and helicopter pilot, was a star at the Republican convention in Fort Worth and now the Journal sees her as at least an interesting political feature, if not a long-shot to knock Wilson off. Wilson, 57, and a veteran womanizer who once cut an appropriation 10 AUGUST 31, 1990 for the Defense Intelligence Agency after it refused a plane ride to one of his companions a former Miss World-USA is hardly typecast to run against a woman who looks like the Sweetheart of Kappa Alpha and drives around the Second District in a “1956 Chevy painted white and robin’s-egg blue, her hair freshly curled, wearing a sailor suit that effects a military air.” And she’s a conservative in a Bible Belt district. Wilson might not get home much anymore, but he’s as good a porkbarrel congressman as the Second District will see in a long time. And, the guy who once characterized Big Thicket National Park proponents as “Goddamned fern fanciers,” has recently sidled up to southeast Texas environmentalists and is supporting the 14,000-acre addition to the park. He is also running as a pro-abortion-rights candidate. We’ll bet on ‘Jean-Paul to prevail here. LOUIS DUBOSE Jean-Paul Belmondo WHEN THE SUNSET Advisory Commission met to review the effectiveness of the state’s Architectural Barriers Program, Carole Patterson, Executive Director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, went to the Capitol to testify in favor of recommendations that would strengthen the program. However, Patterson found that the wheelchair lift to the Senate floor did not accommodate her wheelchair type, and that the elevator to the area was out of order. Eventually, repairers revived the elevator, and Patterson was able to speak to the Commission. But the difficulty she encountered in doing so testified just as eloquently to the barriers that disabled Americans face in asserting the rights guaranteed to all Americans in this case, the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. LOU ZAESKE, the English Firster running as an Independent for the state Senate seat that Kent Caperton is leaving, has taken to task State Republican Representative Richard Smith, for “campaigning at public expense.” Smith, the Bryan Republican who carried the pro-business lobby workers’ compensation reform bill during the last regular legislative session, recently mailed out a six-page questionnaire. Zaeske characterized Smith’s mailing as a political advertisement and dismissed Smith’s claim, that the mailout was intended to solicit constituent responses to help Smith prepare for another possible special session. “I have personally checked with the offices of Rosanna Salazar, Governor Clements’s press secretary; Chris Shields, the Governor’s Legislative Liaison; and Mike Toomey, the Governor’s Chief of Staff.” All, according to Zaeske, said there are no plans for another special session. Former Democratic Representative Jim Turner, who two years ago Edgewood v. Kirby lawsuit, is the Democratic candidate in the three-man race to replace Caperton. WHILE CLEANING out the office the other day, we chanced upon this press release: “A recent rash of oil spills from Galveston Bay to the East Coast should make oil spill preparedness a top priority for Texas, Land Commissioner Garry Mauro said Tuesday.” Which wouldn’t be big news except for the date: June 27, 1989. “We’ve taken some steps to prepare for these dangers, ” Mauro said at the time. “Yet, it is clear that Texas is still woefully unprepared to handle a big spill.” Events a year later establish that Mauro had a good sense of what was to come. Mauro’s office has developed a comprehensive state oil-spill response plan that, had it been implemented by the Legislature, could have mitigated the environmental damage caused by this summer’s three Galveston spills, Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower said after the most recent leak. Hightower estimated the economic impact on the coast of the spills at $40 million, affecting especially commercial fishermen. THE OIL SPILLS also mucked up Rob Mosbacher’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor. His opponent,Democrat Bob Bullock, quickly fired off a press release contending that Mosbacher’s ownership stake in a major Gulf Coast barge company explains the Republican nominee’s “deafening silence” potential conflict of interest, as well as Mosbacher’s statement that the “saddest thing” about the Exxon Valdez Alaska disaster was that it gave Congress new enthusiasm
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