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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE LLOYD BENTSEN’S PENDING departure from the U.S. Senate to straighten out the U.S. Treasury has set off a flurry of speculation and calumny unseen in Texas since the days of LBJ. Virtually every Democratic and Republican officeholder at or above the rank of precinct chair has been floating the idea of running in the special election for Bentsen’s seat. Henry Cisneros, who was assumed to have a virtual lock on the appointment by Gov. Ann Richards, apparently did not relish a statewide campaign, particularly with the prospect of an appointment as Clinton’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Better to face a Senate confirmation panel than 21 Texas media markets, the former San Antonio mayor, now an investor, must have thought. That left Comptroller John Sharp and former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby in the first tier of potential appointees. Hobby, who was on vacation in Ireland, has shown electability but little interest in the post, while Sharp reportedly is hesitant to risk his current job to accept the Senate appointment and face the special election. Attorney General Dan Morales and conservative Sen. John Montford of Lubbock moved into the picture, as did U.S. Rep. Mike Andrews of Houston, U.S. Rep. John Bryant of Dallas and former Attorney General Jim Mattox, former state Rep. Frances “Sissy” Farenthold of Houston, the liberal peace and social justice activist, and even Robert Strauss, the Democratic fixer who recently returned as George Bush’s ambassador to the Kremlin. On the Republican side, Treasurer Kay Bailey Hutchison has indicated she would run; former Public Utility Commissioner Marta Greytok has put out feelers. Other potential candidates include congressmen Jack Fields of Humble, Joe Barton of Ennis and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett, a former congressman, as well as Tom Luce, a Republican who fell out of grace for his role in the Ross Perot campaign. George W. Bush, son of the President, and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach removed themselves from the field, which may rival the size of the 70 candidates who filed to succeed Lyndon B. Johnson in 1961. John Tower, a little-known Republican college professor, won a runoff election in that race. The appointment and special election is important for Richards not only because the senator would be responsible for clearing major federal appointments in the state, but because the appointee would have to run for election in May. The winner also would lead the 1994 ballot, when Richards will be up for re-election. CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS showed they are ready to step up the fight against the Democratic majority with their selection of Dick Armey of Lewisville for the third-ranking post and Tom Delay of Sugar Land for the fifthranking post. The Republican Caucus picked Armey over Jerry Lewis, a moderate from California, as chairman of the House Republican Conference and DeLay over Bill Gradison as secretary of the conference. The election of Armey and DeLay follows two years of chafing by conservative insurgents at the moderate House GOP leadership. But unlike Armey, who is seen as a loner on Capitol Hill, DeLay was part of the GOP leadership structure and is more of a networker who could make his move past Armey when, as expected, Newt Gingrich challenges Minority Leader Bob Michel. THE LOSS OF A DEPENDABLE Republican Presidential veto will put the heat on conservative Democrats who had the luxury of voting with labor and other progressive groups at least occasionally for the past 12 years, knowing that the bills Congress was passing would not become law. Southern Democratic senators particularly will be pressed by business groups as labor unions revive labor law reforms. JERRY PATTERSON, the Pasadena Republican who upset longtime incumbent Sen. Chet Brooks in District 11, may yet face a seating challenge because he held a seat on a Harris County municipal utility district board of directors at the same time he ran for the Senate, in apparent violation of the state constitution. The Galveston Daily News reported Patterson quit the MUD post September 3, two months before the general election, which has prompted a review by the Texas Attorney General, but Patterson said he is confident if the attorney general rules against him and the Senate votes not to seat him he could regain the seat in another special election. Brooks, who will draw $40,000 a year in legislative retirement benefits, has said he would not run again for the $7,200-a-year seat. Among Patterson’s potential challengers is Rep. Mike Martin, D-Galveston. THE EL PASO TIMES said there is only one way to provide for equitable financing of schools without a constitutional amendment: An income tax. “A properly designed income tax could replace property taxes for the operation of schools while giving the elderly who own homes but live on fixed incomes a huge break in their taxes,” the Times editorizalized. OUTIDE OF WHAT? “Let me tell you, I have felt like an outsider for 12 years,” Senator Lloyd Bentsen said December 10, when he was introduced in Little Rock as Bill Clinton’s choice for Secretary of Treasury. Eleven years earlier, however, Bentsen didn’t seem like such an outsider when he joined Republicans and Boll Wevil Democrats voting for draconian budget cuts requested by Ronald Reagan. Bentsen was of little help when Democrats tried to restore some of the funds cut from social services proments proposed, Bentsen voted with Republicans 25 times and with. Democrats nine times,” pub lisher Ronnie Dugger wrote. GOOD NEWS from Alpine. The Nimby News, Jack McNamara’s muckracker, is back in print after a brief publishing hiatus. The Nimby, published in Alpine, seems to have a knack for printing all the news that doesn’t fit in the region’s mainstream dailies and weeklies. In his lead editorial, editor McNamara engages in a bit of selfvindication, reminding critics who in the past accused Nimby writers of advancing conspiracy theories in the paper’s ground-breaking coverage of drug dealing in West Texas, that “it was conspiracy. That is precisely what Robert Chambers and [Presidio County Sheriff Rick] Thompson were charged with.” Both men were convicted. McNamara is likely to be vindicated even further soon in a PBS “Frontline” feature on West Texas drug dealing. BARBARA HINES, an Austin-based immigration lawyer now working for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, an immigrants’ rights advocacy group, is advising the Clinton Administration transition team on immigration affairs. Earlier this month, collaborating with attorneys Robbie Greenblum and Alberto Almendariz, Hines won a ruling in the El Paso court of U.S. District Judge Lucius Bunton, stopping random Border Patrol searches in the El Paso sector. Hines got “the call” G.B. Trudeau has been writing about in his “Doonesbury” comic strip, the day after Bunton handed down his opinion in El Paso. Hines has been involved in sanctuary cases, has challenged in court the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s detention of minors and, with her recent victory in El Paso, reaffirmed an earlier Bunton ruling in which the judge declared that agents must have some probable cause before stopping and questioning people on the streets or in business establishments. “IT MAY BE TOO EARLY to sing `Happy Days Are Here Again,'” said Downwinder News, a Fort Worth environmental newsletter, “but for environmentalists, the election of Bill Clinton and Al Gore can only mean better days are ahead for all of us as well as this battered old planet.” The newsletter, edited by Betty Brink and Lon Burnham, noted that Clinton reportedly will promote natural gas over coal and oil; will shift federal research priorities to conservation and renewable energy over nuclear energy and coal; will make available to private industry new technologies developed by the Department of Energy to clean up the damage done by nuclear weapons plants; and will expand the United States’ role in the global market for environmental and pollution control research, manufacturing and services. “The brightest spot on this horizon is the fact that both men seem to be accessible an open to new ideas. Remembering the ‘environmental president’ just defeated, the future looks bright indeed.” 22 DECEMBER 25, 1992 . -vc.