Page 21


The most important race: Bob Bullock for Lieutenant Governor. Bullock with Hector Uribe LOUIS DUBOSE Bob Bullock’s Senate 11.1 HERE ARE two Bob Bullocks. Of most II immediate concern is the Bob Bullock who has surrounded himself with some of the most talented people working in state government and who now directs the most efficient agency in Austin. That Bob Bullock, the state comptroller, is the only one that most of the public knows about anymore. And if he were not ahead in the polls, in a race to become the most important elected official in the state, that is the only Bob Bullock the public would hear about between now and November 6. The other Bob Bullock is the hard-drinking, fast-driving, vindictive, antagonistic, and pugilistic character who has served as a state representative, an aide to former Governor Preston Smith, secretary of state, a lobbyist, and finally, state comptrollgr. Until he signed himself into an residential alcohol treatment program, dried out, and began to put his public and private life in order, the earlier Bob Bullock was the regular talk of the town. Nowadays, separating truth from apocrypha is no easy task. Separating truth from apocrypha, then asking the question “What matters?” is what will be required of voters as the campaigns turn up the volume in the final days, with Rob Mosbacher Jr., aware that he’s got to close the gap, going negative with police blotter and courthouse stories about an earlier Bob Bullock. So, what matters? Not only can a case be made for comparing alcohol-abuse treatmentor in Bullock’s words, “drunk school”to filing bankruptcy, that is, drawing a line across a certain date and evaluating a subject’s performance from the day treatment was concluded, it can also be argued that no one on either ticket is as qualified as Bob Bullock to preside over the Senate at a time when some of its best members are departing, with school finance reform, ethics reform, redistricting, insurance reform, and the Department of Human Services deficit at the top of the agenda. What matters is who, as lieutenant governor, will preside over the Senate in the absence of Hector Uribe, who was defeated in the primary by a Eddie Lucio, a decidedly inferior opponent; Hugh Parmer, who will be replaced by either a reactionary Democrat, Mike Moncrief, or Republican John Lively; Kent Caperton, who will be replaced by either Jim Turner, a former Democratic state representative and mayor of Crockett, or Richard Smith, a Republican House member who fits the Sam Houston characterization of a political opponent who had “all the attributes of a dog except fidelity”; and, if Chet Edwards prevails in his congressional election, perhaps Hugh Shine, Edwards’s Democrat-turned Republican opponent in a contest to replace Congressman Marvin Leath. It will be a new Senate. And the Senate has always served as a firewall to protect against bad legislation coming out of the House or the lobby. What makes the Senate a good place to stop bad legislation is, in part, procedure. At the begining of each session, one “blocker bill” is filed and assigned a number, and in theory, every other bill filed is assigned a place behind the first bill. In practice, however, each bill is brought up by a motion to suspend the rules and consider it out of order in other words, ahead of the blocker bill. To bring a bill up requires a twothirds vote, so in a body of 31, 11 senators can exert a great deal of influence on stopping or altering bad legislation. Next year, on many issues, without Uribe, Parmer, Caperton, and possibly Edwards, that 11member wall might not be there. “It all depends on whose Senate it is,” labor lobbyist Dee Simpson said. “If it’s Bob Bullock’s Senate, it’s going to be run by a pro-active leader who will be up front and leading, trying to solve problems before they get out of hand.” BULLOCK, according to Simpson “gets it” his natural, inclination is toward public policy that anticipates rather than reacts. “Look at the school finance plan that Bullock came out with in 1988,” Simpson said. Simpson described it as a stronger version of what was ultimately proposed by the Equity Center, a plaintiff intervenor group representing property-poor schools in the equity litigation and legislation. “[Judge] Scott McCown said that if the Equity Center bill would have passed it would have been con stitutional,” Simpson said. “And Bullock was ahead of the Equity Center: If Bullock’s plan had passed, McCown would have approved it and wouldn’t be in court. Bullock gets it.” There are other vital issues. After years of unsuccessful attempts to get water and sewer lines to colonias along the border, it was Bullock who devised a financing scheme that would get through the Legislature, and water and sanitary-sewer projects are now under construction. And public interest lobbyists describe Bullock’s ethics-reform package as the best comprehensive plan to wrest control of the Legislature away from the big-business lobby. But Bullock is not anti-business. After 15 years as comptroller he has earned the respect of the business community. He understands the difference between what business needs and what business wants, while he also understands that there are other interest groups who should be included in the legislative process. “Bullock is elected, and we’re in the debate,” Simpson said of the public interest and labor lobbyists who have never played on a level field in the Texas House or Senate. “Bob Bullock is an upsetter. He will turn the apple cart over, change the nature of debate, get us out of the state of denial so we can deal with the problems we ought to be working to solve.” We don’t always agree with Dee Simpson here we do. The election of Bullock as lieutenant governor will alter the course of government in Texasparticularly if Ann Richards is also elected. We endorse, without reservation, Bob Bullock for lieutenant governor. Continued on page 1 1 4 OCTOBER 12, 1990