POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE POSTER-BOY DEFUNCT. Newt Gingrich embraced him, former President George Bush endorsed him, and the New York Times ran a front-page story on his race. But in the end, Greg Laughlin, recruited by the Republican Party after he had voted like a Republican since 1988, lostto a Libertarian. There’s more than a bit of poetic justice in Laughlin’ s defeat, after a particularly nasty run-off campaign. His first election to the U.S. Congressional District 14 seat was in part a result of environmental groups turning out blockwalkers to hold the line in the urban fringe of his largely rural district. Laughlin went to Washington, promptly began to disappoint the environmentalists who helped elect him in 1988, and last year wholeheartedly embraced the anti-environmental Republican Contract with America. Ron Paul, the Klute physician, former Republican Congressman and Libertarian Party presidential candidate, who won the race, wasn’t even supposed to be a player. Jim Deats, who had run against Laughlin two years ago, was the candidate the Republican Party was groominguntil Laughlin switched parties and Gingrich anointed him with a seat on the Ways and Means Committee. Laughlin won only forty-six percent of the vote, and Austin lawyer Lefty Morris, who faced no opposition in the Democratic primary, now finds himself running against Ron Paul, for an open seat. MAD, MAD WORLD. They were college roommates, ideological soulmates, and finally opponents in a race that highlighted the fissures in the always fractious the end, Domingo Garcia, the former Dallas city council member who characterized two-term Dallas Representative Roberto Alonzo \(Texas House District American political community, won by a fifty-three to forty-seven percent split. It requires more space than is available here to describe Who’s Who in the old MexicanAmerican Democrats, the new MexicanAmerican Democrats, and the Tejano Democrats. But Alonzo must have known he was in trouble in the Democratic Primary, when he came in second with thirty 14 three percent of the vote after the spoiler, West Dallas neighborhood organizer and environmental activist Luis Sepulveda, took nineteen percent of the vote. In Fort Worth, progressive Democrat Lon Burnam prevailed in the runoff race for the House seat of Doyle Willis, who is retiring. THE NRA IN EL PASO. An endorsement by former Governor Ann Richards wasn’t as effective as the National Rifle Association’s endorsement and financial support, as former Border Patrol Chief Silvestre Reyes beat out Jose Luis Sanchez to replace veteran Democratic Congressman Ron Coleman, retiring after fourteen years in attracted national attention with his “Operation Hold the Line” border blockade, had been an early favorite, but Sanchez, jumping on Reyes’ statements about abolishing the federal Department of Education and his support of a bill to abolish the assault weapon ban, closed the gap until the race was a dead heat. Reyes won by one percent. CLEAN VIC VS. FOUL PHIL? He fooled nearly everybody, including the Observer, but schoolteacher and political unknown Victor Morales is now the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Phil Gramm. When he entered the Democratic primary, most political observers expected his candidacy to flounder for lack of money and name recognition, but his pick-up and shoeleather campaign eliminated long-time poll Jim Chapman and John Odam, and then edged out the Party’s progressive stalwart, Dallas-area Congressman John Bryant, who ran an honorable race but seemed stunned by Morales’ ingenuous naivet. Conceding the race, Bryant said simply, “I just think the better man won.” Can Morales beat Gramm? The morningafter answers predictably broke on party lines, but GOP consultant Karl Rove seemed at least a bit nervous at the prospect of Gramm having to run against a real outsider with no political baggage. Rove told the Dallas Morning News, “It’s a little more difficult to run against a Mr. Clean Gene, a political naive guy.” Despite Gramm’s expensive failure on the Republican presidential trail, his campaign coffers remain loaded; Morales says he spent fifty thousand dollars on the primary and has nine thousand left in the bank. But Democratic Party spokeswoma, Anne Marie Kilday said the Party is “ready to wage a fullout campaign.” That remains to be seen, for if the Bryant defeat has any lesson, it is that the Texas Democratic Party is apparently unable to turn out the vote for its own favorites. As for the Observer, crow is a chewy but flavorful dish, and the occasion of much reflection. While we’re eating, we hope that Morales will discover that a Senator needs be able to say something besides “I don’t know…” CHILD MOLESTERS? Election news was nearly obliterated last week in the Texas media, almost universally preoccupied with whether self-advertising child molester Larry Don McQuay, just released from prison, will be granted his wish of being castrated, supposedly to prevent him from molesting any more children. McQuay claimed to have molested more than two hundred children before he was arrested and jailed six years ago, and “victims’ rights” groups around the state rushed to endorse his braggingand his unproven’ insistence that castration would solve his problems. Governor Bush joined the chorus, telling the San Antonio Express-News the state would provide transportation for McQuay’s surgery. Texas Parole Board Chairman Victor Rodriguez called McQuay “Public Enemy No. 1 for the kids of the state of Texas.” Bush and Rodriguez might read something beside the headlines. A few weeks ago, The Center for Public Policy Priorities reported that Texas ranks forty-seventh nationally in child poverty, and that in 1991, one in four Texas children were living in poverty. \(In five border counties, Texas also ranks forty-sei/enth in the percent of children living in overcrowded housing, forty-third in those in substandard housing, and dead lastfifty-firstin the percent of its children with no health insurOf course, if any of those children are ever molested by Larry Don McQuay, maybe the state of Texas will take an interest in them. 74470 89397 Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to : The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701 24 APRIL 19, 1996 4 0
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