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I I 89397 20 0 74470 4 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE KENT’S QUEST. Arlington state Representative Kent Grusendorf s humorless approach to implementing his far-right agenda hasn’t exactly made him the most popular member of even the Republican House delegation. Maybe he hasn’t noticed. Recently Grusendorf, who has spent the past three sessions working to take public funding out of public education, took the lead in his party’s campaign to win a House majority and topple Democratic Speaker Pete Laneywhose fairness in running the House has earned him the support of a number of Republican House members. According to Austin American -Statesman political columnist Dave McNeely, Grusendorf is the point man in Republican Party State Chairman Tom Pauken’s campaign to win a House Majority. Pauken’s “76 in ’96” campaign to capture a majority in the House is only a good idea if it works. If it fails, and makes Laney more partisan House, the Republicans lose big time. “Just 12 on November 5th and we’re in control!” Grusendorf wrote in a fundraising letter mailed to party activists. It’s unlikely that the Republicans will pick up twelve seats. If they do, as McNeely handicaps a Republican Speaker’s race, it’s more unlikely that Grusendorf would win. ANOTHER FRIEND GONE. As this issue went to press, Gail K. Beil of the Marshall News Messenger called to tell us of the passing of yet another Oberver emeritus, Franklin Jones Sr., who died on Saturday, May 4, at the age of ninety-two. He was one of this newspaper’s founders and mentors, and in an interview last year said that his association with the Observer was “one of the proudest recollections of his public life.” In her obituary essay for the News Messenger, Beil recounted Jones’ lifelong battles, and many victories, against segregation, racism, corporate power and tyranny, and quoted a fellow Marshall citizen’s final judgement: “He was one of those rare individuals who was willing to Kent Grusendorf ALAN POGUE be on the wrong side in the present knowing he was on the right side of history.” RIGHT FLIGHT. Extremist Christian candidates for local school boards across the state are losing elections, despite the efforts of national far-right organizations, including the Christian Coalition and the Eagle Forum. According to Cecile Richards of the Texas Freedom Network, in a sample of eleven districts the far right targeted this year or last, moderate candidates prevailed over religious-right opponents. “Candidates supporting the positions of national far-right political organizations were largely unsuccessful in local school board races,” Richards said. REPUBLICAN STARS. Governor George W. Bush will serve as temporary cochairman of the Republican Party’s national convention in San Diego on August 12-15. Bush will share the podium with New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, a moderate on social issues and one of the parry’s few prominent proponents of abortion rights. Bush, who opposes women’s right to choose, is still viewed as a moderate on the issue because he has kept it far from the top of his political agenda. But he does not support removing the anti-abortion position from the Republican platform. The temporary chair traditionally pre- sides over the first day of the convention, but in August Bush and Whitman might end up with more time on stage. The positions of co-chairs, reserved for the party leaders in the Senate and House, put Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich in the limelight. With Dole under wraps until the candidate’s traditional triumphal acceptance speech late in the convention, that leaves Gingrich. “Unless they are brain dead,” Washington political analyst Stuart Rothenberg told the Houston Chronicle, the party will relegate Gingrich to a less-visible role at the convention. GRAIVIM’S GAS. Phil’s Phlea Circus and Incredibly Threadbare Road Show set up a tent at an Austin gas station last week, phlogging the Senator’s latest snakeoil, the repeal of the 1993 gasoline tax. Gramm had himself filmed while giving full servicepumping gas and throttling voters. \(We presume he did not accept minimum wages in either capacity, thus freeing Meanwhile, Austin American -Statesman columnist Dave McNeely pointed out \(May year enthusiasm for the repeal of the 4.3 cent-per-gallon tax, he had in fact supported raising the gas tax by ten cents in 1990. The measure failed in the House, “but had the budget package Gramm pushed…become law, the federal gasoline tax now would be nineteen cents a gallon which might have made the 4.3-cent hike added after Clinton became president in 1993 unnecessary.” Speaking of gas and taxes, the consumer group Citizen Action recently pointed out that in 1994, the nation’s largest oil and energy companies paid, on average, only eight See “Pumping Gas,” page 21 24 MAY 17, 1996