A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of human-kind as the foundation of democracy: we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them, because this is a journal of free voices. SINCE 1954 Publisher: Ronnie Dugger Editor: Louis Dubose Associate Editor: James Cullen Layout and Design: Diana Paciocco, Peter Szymczak Copy Editor: Roxanne Bogucka Mexico City Correspondent: Barbara Belejack Editorial Interns: Lorri J. Legge, Mary O’Grady. 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INDEXES: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. THE TEXAS copyrighted. 1993. is published biweekly except for a three-week interval 477-0746. Second-class postage paid at Austin. Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE TEXAS OBSERVER, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Gov. Ann Richards, with a cold eye on the political numbers, chose Bob Krueger to replace Lloyd Bentsen in the U.S. Senate, at least until the special election in May. There is little for progressives to cheer about in Krueger’s selection; the best that can be said is that Krueger, who has been a moderate-to-conservative Democrat as a congressman from New Braunfels and as a railroad commissioner, probably can keep the seat out of Republican hands. The biggest disappointment is that Richards, in her continuing attempt to consolidate the political center, let slip the chance to place a genuine liberal in the seat Bentsen took from Ralph Yarborough in 1970. Richards had an excellent candidate in John Bryant, the Dallas congressman with a distinguished record on progressive issues. But, from all indications, Bryant never was seriously considered for the appointment. Instead, after Henry Cisneros, John Sharp and Dan Morales all of whom are centrists bowed out of consideration, she focused on two moderate congressmen, Mike Andrews of Houston and Jim Chapman of Sulphur Springs. After several weeks of polling, the Richards organization settled on Krueger, a Shakespeare scholar who will be making his third race for the Senate \(he narrowly lost to John Tower and finished third in the photo-finish 1984 Democratic congressman from New Braunfels, ambassador-at-large to Mexico under President Jimmy Carter, has run a moderate course as railroad commissioner and coordinated Paul Tsongas’ Democratic primary campaign in Texas this past spring. The Democratic establishment, including Bentsen and President-elect Bill. Clinton, quickly rallied around Richards and her choice for the Senate, hoping to deny any opening for potential Democratic challengers, such as Jim Mattox, the liberal former congressman and attorney general whose bruising primary fight with Richards in 1990 practically precluded his own appointment. But a few hours after Richards announced her choice, Mattox criticized Krueger as a congressmen who opposed national health care, public service jobs, clean air, consumer protection, worker safety, education for handicapped children and veterans and school nutrition programs. Krueger’s record “goes against everything that rank and file Democrats believe in,” Mattox said. On the Republican side, state Treasurer Kay Bailey Hutchison figures to attract moderate and pro-choice Republicans while congressmen Joe Barton of Ennis and Jack Fields of Humble probably will split the anti-abortion and conservative vote. Kent Hance, a former congressman who lost a 1984 Democratic primary race for the Senate, then switched parties and lost races for Governor in 1986 and Railroad Commission in 1988, could further fracture the conservative vote. Middle-roaders argued that Gov. Richards needed to name a moderate Democrat to replace Bentsen or risk losing the Senate seat to the GOP, but even a liberal Democrat would have a powerful argument with Bill Clinton in the . White House and Democrats controlling both houses of Congress: That the best interests of Texas would be served with at least one of the state’s senators a Democrat. That logic could sway Dallas and Fort Worth, where funding for the Superconducting Supercollider and niilitary ,projects are in the balance, as well as precincts near the Johnson Space Center that have become accustomed to voting Republican, but which would sorely miss space station spending that could just as well go to NASA sites in Alabama Perhaps those voters will gamble that Senate Democrats such as Dale Bumpers of Arkansas, a friend of Clinton’ s who led the floor fight against supercollider funding this past year, would not strip Texas of federal pork if somebody like Joe Barton or Kay Hutchison joined Phil Gramm in the Senate. But would the pocketbook voters want to take that chance? Krueger, after four statewide races, is betterknown than either Bryant or Martin Frost, another Dallas congressman who would have been a good choice. But Richards’ nod would have given either one instant name recognition and made him the favorite to win the special election, where Democrats and Republicans run together and the top two finishers likely will meet in a runoff. To win the special election, a progressive Senate candidate should stress not free trade or natural gas, as Richards and Krueger sugges&d, but health care reform, and not the watered-down version promoted by Clinton in an effort to salvage the private health insurance business, but Canada-style universal health care for all Americans. This approach would appeal not only to the seven million Texans who now cannot afford health insurance, but also to those who are covered now but whose employers face the choice of paying higher premiums or letting them go without health coverage. Harris Wofford rode this issue to the Senate last year in Pennsylvania and it was potent in several Democratic primary races in Texas this past spring; if Krueger is not willing to carry this issue, Mattox should.Richards and other Democratic leaders already have moved to cut off potential support for Mattox, particularly among labor unions and plaintiffs’ lawyers. But progressives deserve the alternative Richards refused to give them; if it takes a guerilla campaign led by Jim Mattox, the junkyard dog of Texas politics, so be it. J.C. EDITORIALS Middle-Road Bluff 2 JANUARY 15, 1993
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