IF ANN RICHARDS’ second gubernato rial campaign began in 1992 at a retreat at South Padre Island, when Governor-elect Richards decided that she would run, for a second term, which would require her to measure every decision she would make against how it would play among the moderate suburban Republican women who had swung the election for her, then George W. Bush’s gubernatorial campaign began in New Orleans in 1988. There, at the Republican national convention that nominated George Herbert Walker Bush and J. Danforth Quayle, George W. was assigned to the Texas press pack and the younger Bush staked out the lobby of the Canal Street Hotel where the Texas convention delegation was housed. To the personable but never ingratiating Bush, Dallas Morning News columnist Sam Attlesey was “Sam,” Austin American -Statesman columnist Dave McNeely was “Dave,” and if Hunter Thompson had been filing stories for a Texas daily, rather than writing his “Generation of Swine” article for Rolling Stone, I suppose he would have been “Doc.” Eight years ago George W. Bush was a man on the make and as he held forth in the hotel lobby and bar it did seem like he had more than his father’s reelection in mind. His political ambition, and Ann Richards’ determination to use her first term to secure a second one, changed the course of the first Richards Administration and recently the Governor has begun to steer her campaign even further to the right. And that is probably the direction in which it will proceed until the November election. Which should not be surprising. As labor lobbyist Don Dee Simpson is wont to remind us, “She is governor of a state that’s about as progressive as Mississippi.” NEITHER RICHARDS NOR BUSH held their fire until Labor Day, which traditionally marks the beginning of fall political campaigns, but it was George W. who seemed most eager to get started and perhaps it was a premature start that had Bush doing his own version of the Texas Two Step, taking one step forward and two steps back, holding press conferences on issues before they were thought out, then doing damage control after reporters began to ask their first round of follow-up questions. It was Bush, after all, who said that if elected he would house prisoners in tents and double them up in cells to save money and ease county jail crowding. If such a policy violated the terms of the Ruiz v. Estelle lawsuit settlement, by which a federal judge had imposed certain housing requirements on the Texas prison system, well, then, the Ruiz agreement should be ignored. Bush was forced to reconsider after reporters began to look at a fine schedule that would have cost the state .hundreds of millions per year in fines for violations of the Ruiz agreement; Richards’ campaign spokespersons were more than happy to help the press tally up potential fines. Bush followed with a proposal to fingerprint all welfare recipients in order to cut down on welfare fraud. But he based his scheme on a. Los Angeles program and when asked, said he didn’t know how much was lost in welfare fraud in Texas each year. The program, nonetheless, would pay for itself within two years, he said. \(Figure program promoted by Texas State Comptroller John Sharp: a welfare recipients’ ID card similar to a credit card, which she contends has a “tremendous track record for cutting out cheats.” With a series of false starts, it began to look like the Bush campaign was headed for trouble. Unless, that is, Republican consultant Karl Rove was not concerned about content of news stories but was instead depending on the day’s headlines and the symbolic value they created. Democrats, it was implied, want to coddle criminals while Republicans are eager to double-bunk them or house them in tents. Democrats want to hand credit cards to welfare recipients while Republicans stand ready to fingerprint those on the dole. This, combined with so much background noise about crime and punishment, could only serve to define Bush as a conservative ready to take on criminals and welfare mothers. Perhaps Richards’ campaign consultants began to worry about the Governor being unfairly compared to Bush, because in July and August the campaign seemed to turn reactive. The Governor’s TV spot on teen curfews is not so bad. Filmed at St. Edwards University, with adolescents seated in a classroom, listening to the Governor tell them they need a curfew because the streets are unsafe at night, it depicts the Governor as a caring mother. And even the response ad on prisons, produced by Democratic consultant Bob Squier, in which Richards re rd .. TIlli TIOXAS IIIP server SEPTEMBER 2, 1994 VOLUME 86, No. 17 FEATURES Sprint Breaks La Conexion By Bill Adler Big Bucks Behind Bars By Robert Bryce DEPARTMENTS Editorial The Governor Moves Right Balancing Nuclear Waste Molly Ivins Crime and Rascality 10 Jim Hightower Milquetoast Health Care; Icky Air; Big Brother On-Line; 11 Las Americas Mexico’s Political Hangover By Barbara Belejack in Mexico City Patronage and PRI-dominance By Alison Gardy in Nezahualcoyotl The People Watched By Louis Dubose in Monterrey 12 13 16 Books and the Culture Claytie & The Lady Book review by James Cullen Red Rock West Movie review by Steven G. Kellman 20 21 Afterword Wet Dreams in San Antonio By Char Miller 23 Political Intelligence 24 sponds to the rhetorical question, “Well, Ann, what does it say about Texas that we’ve got the largest prison system in the . world when you get through building?” is bad but not that bad. \(“It says that if you commit a crime in Texas, we’ve got a place But amid all of this posturing on crime and punishment, in early August, this Governor, who was once a civil libertarian, seemed to have lost her moral compass when she called for legislation setting time limits on death row appeals. “I am not proposing that we remove the legal options currently available to Texans sentenced to death,” Richards said, “but I EDITORIALS Texas Two Step THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
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