Senate Spin V Who won the day when the Mexican American Democrats, meeting in Lubbock on February 20, failed to reach a consensus on endorsement? Well, start with the losers: Bob Krueger, the moderate-to-conservative interim Senator and choice of Gov. Ann Richards and former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, had rounded up endorsements of the State Democratic Executive Committee, the Texas AFL-CIO, the Coalition of Black Democrats and Texas trial lawyers, but he was stopped short of the two-thirds necessary thr the MAD endorsement. Jim Mattox, the progressive former attorney general, got less than 1 percent of the total, but Jos6 Angel Gutierrez, the former La Raza Unida organizer, now in a Dallas law practice, played the spoiler with 29 percent, as 9 percent were absent. Mattox reports plenty of encouragement but has been stymied in his attempts to raise funds, while Gutierrez has been aggressively campaigning throughout the state, earning coverage in the public prints and buying radio spots on stations in San Antonio, Houston, the Valley and Mexican “border blasters”; he could reach the runoff if the Mexican-American vote -with a stake in turning out for the “share the wealth” constitutional amendment coalesced around him. In special election mathematics, where a score of candidates could split the vote and 20 percent could put a candidate inn the finals, Gutierrez could end up in a runoff with Richard Fisher, the Perotista Democrat. Or State Treasurer Kay Hutchison could end up in a runoff with San Antonio lawyer Gene Kelly, whose famous name has gained him votes before. A recent Mason-Dixon poll showed Krueger leading the race with 22 percent, Mattox with 20 and Hutchison with 18. Fields had 7 percent and Joe Barton had 6 percent. President Bill Clinton, who stopped short of an endorsement of Krueger in Austin in January, gave Krueger his unqualified support at the MAD convention. Meanwhile, Krueger has been running hot and cold on the President and his party. “I am a Democrat without apology. I am a loyal Democrat,” he told the Mexican American Democrats. But his recent TV ads identify him as an independent. Krueger, who voted about onethird of the time with the Democrats when he was in Congress, has been cool to the President’s economic plan, particularly its proposed energy tax; he has waffled on allowing gays to serve in the military, voted to overturn Clinton’s move to let HIV-positive immigrants into the country and recently said he opposed the Brady Bill, which Clinton supports, to regulate handgun purchases. A recent Texas Poll showed only 27 percent of Texans approve of Clinton’s job performance so far and Republicans hope to make the May 1 special election a referen dum on the new President’s economic plan, with gays in the military thrown in for good measure. Krueger got to announce that President Clinton’s budget included $640 million for the Superconducting Supercollider and the interim senator publicly shared the credit for getting the White House to spare the $10 billion project near Dallas, at least for the time being. But the giant atom smasher, along with the space station, another endangered porkbarrel project, faces an uphill battle on Capitol Hill, particularly after the General Accounting Office reported the collider is poorly managed, over budget and behind schedule. Sen. Phil Gramm, the erstwhile budget cutter who is unaccustomed to others taking credit for events in Texas, played down Krueger’s coup and complained that Clinton’s space station, redesigned to come in at $2.5 billion, would be little more than a “man in the can.” And Vice President Al Gore has said the costly Texas projects are subjects for “legitimate debate” if Congress looks for additional cuts beyond those proposed in Clinton’s economic package. LOCAL UNION officials have been asked to print endorsement letters for Krueger on their local letterheads. Among the stated reasons union families should support Krueger: “Of all the candidates running for the office, Bob Krueger is the one most like Lloyd Bentsen on both social and economic issues.” Faint praise: Bentsen has voted with labor about 50 percent of the time in the past few years. EASY MONEY I. He may not score high in the polls, but U.S. Rep. Jack Fields, R-Humble, collected $103,000 for his Senate race from political action committees at a recent Washington fundraiser hosted by Sen. Bob Dole, the Minority Leader from Kansas, the Houston Post reported. EASY MONEY II. What are bid requirements among friends? As State Treasurer, Kay . Hutchison waived the bid process and awarded a $300 million borrowing program to Goldman Sachs Co, whose executives and contributed at least $29,000 to her campaign in the past two years, and whose Dallas office is run by Daniel Cook III, one of her key political supporters, the Dallas Morning News reported Feb. 27. Goldman Sachs reportedly was paid $113,000 for its service. The Houston Chronicle on Feb. 28 reported that a New York firm that lost a 1991 Treasury contract to market revenue-anticipation notes when it was low bidder won a similar contract in 1992 after entering into a joint venture with a Dallas firm headed by a Hutchison friend, a former member of her husband’s law firm. will occur pretty fast. “Six years after it’s opened it will look pretty old,” an Intel senior vice president was quoted in the story. The plant’s life is estimated at 10 to 15 years. V HIGH HOPES. Republicans hope to take the House seat vacated by Democratic Rep. Eddie Cavazos in Corpus Christi, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported. Republicans who have expressed interest in the special election called for April 3 include City Councilman Joe McComb and Mary Salisbury, who got 44 percent of the vote against Cavazos in the past general election. Democrats who are interested in the race include Arnold Gonzales Jr., a lawyer, former aide to Cavazos and son of a former state representative; Vilma Luna, lawyer and vice chair of the Texas Democratic Party; and photographer Reynaldo Madrigal. V MOVE ‘EM OUT. Ag Commissioner Rick Perry endorsed stillborn legislation that would allow him to move the Texas Department of Agriculture outside Austin and presumably leave behind any holdovers from the Jim Hightower regime. “Revitalizing the Texas heartland is one of my major goals. This proposed change would clear out any bureaucracy-blocked arteries, allow the people to measure the pulse and would send jobs the life blood of the economy flowing to a new segment of the heartland,” Perry said in support of the proposed constitutional amendment, which is sponsored by Sen. Frank Madla, D-San Antonio, and Rep. Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth. The agency has 538 full-time employees, of which 225 are in Austin. Perry said San Antonio and Fort Worth had expressed interest in being the agency’s new home. Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, D-Austin, proposed a swap with San Antonio: The Ag Department for the Alamo. VOTING RIGHTS SOUGHT. While Attorney General Dan Morales came out in favor of single-member districts for state district judges in counties larger than 100 ;000 to settle a voting rights lawsuit, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Texas Civil Rights Project joined to file a lawsuit in Laredo federal court on behalf of the League of United Latin American Citizens seeking single-member districts for state courts of appeal in Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, San Antonio and Houston. A federal court in Brownsville has invalidated at-large elections for the Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi; that case is pending in the Fifth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs claim that Mexican and African Americans in Texas are denied the opportunity to elect judges on the courts. There are no minority state appellate judges in Dallas and Houston, where minority appointees were defeated this past November; there is one minority appellate THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21
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