EDITORIAL Follow the Money A month before the general election, Texas Democratic Party Chair Bill White is telling the press that there is good news and bad news for Democrats. The good news, according to White, is that President Clinton’s’ numbers are up both in Texas, where a Democratic Party poll has him in a 41-to-41-percent dead heat with Bob Dole, and nationwide, where the President seems to be open ing up his lead. The bad news is that Republican funders are writing off the Dole campaign and moving their money into congressional and state legislative elections. “Republicans are even beginning to spin it that way, saying `yeah, but watch what happens in the congressional elections,’ or ‘watch what happens in the state legislative races.’ As White sees it, a lot of Republican funders weren’t exactly converted by the Christian fundamentalists who seized the party machinery. Now Dole’s fading campaign provides them a rationale to invest in candidates they truly believe in. Clinton’s growing lead, as White and The New York Times observe, allow him to fly into districts where Democratic congressional candidates are in tight races. That’s what Clinton’s three-day Texas tour in late September was all about. Clinton selected East Texas House races the state Democratic Party is most convinced it can win, with a little help from the President: the 2nd District, where former State Senator Jim Turner is running against religious right dentist Brian Babin; the 5th District where John Pouland is struggling in a race with Pete Sessions, the son of the former FBI director; and the 12th District where former state Senator Hugh Parmer and Fort Worth Mayor Kay Granger are in a tight race to replace Pete Geren, the former Lloyd Bentsen aide most people thought was a Democrat until he was elected to Congress and started voting. Clinton had tentatively scheduled a visit to the 9th District, where the Republican Party’s most vulnerable congressman, Steve Stockman, faces a challenge from Nick Lampson. But Clinton’s schedulers determined that tying up the Gulf Freeway from Houston to Galveston was both bad politics and bad logistics. Lampson, a former Jefferson County tax assessor-collector, traveled to Houston to join the President. Texas, the Times observed, has always been an exporter of cash for Democratic Party national campaigns. But with Clinton ahead, he was able to serve as a big draw at several Texas fundraisers. The money raised, White said, will be used in Texas races. If White is correct about Texas Republicans moving their money away from the Dole campaignand if Dole and Kemp finally recognize that California is a lost cause and shift their California funding to Texasmost of the money Clinton helped raise will be spent on congressional races. That leaves Senate candidate Victor Morales alone in his Nissan, driving to fundraisers and passing around the red gas can for cash. In April, when the Democratic Party began to return Morales’ phone calls shortly after his runoff defeat of Dallas Congressman John Bryant, Morales was briefly flying around the state with Nebraska Congressman Bob Kerrey, the chairman of the Derhocratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. At the time, Kerrey began discussing how much support the DSCC might provide Morales, and after the Senator returned to Washington there was a tentative promise of $1.3 million. None of that money has arrived and it is beginning to look like it never will. Morales’ sagging numbers are probably a by the DSCCwhich isn’t nearly as flush as its Republican counterpart, chaired by Alfonse D’ Amato. For the Morales campaign though, the Democratic committee’s failure to provide funding has created a self-fulfilling prophecy: with no money, he can’t increase his position in the polls, and with low poll numbers, he gets no money. Morales didn’t help his cause by refusing to accept a September 29 debate date with Phil Gramm. With millions in the bank, Gramm is on TV all over the state. The debates, broadcast on PBS affiliates, would have provided Morales the only statewide exposure he is likely to see between now and the election. When asked if he had made a serious tactical error in refusing to accept the debate date, Morales was defensive. “I earned the right to negotiate the debate date, so don’t I have a say in it?” he said in an interview at St. Edward’s University in Austin. Three days later, Morales said he shouldn’t have passed up the debate. The free air time PBS provided the two candidates on the night set aside for the debate didn’t draw the viewers that a head-to-head match-up would have. Morales’ hour-long talk to a St. Edward’s political science class on September 20 in Austin suggests how frustrated he has become, as a campaign that has logged some 80,000 highway miles is beginning to feel utterly static. Morales spelled out his support of affirmative action \(he also suggested that sometime after the year 2000, when Mexican Americans are the majority in Texas, the state’s Anglo minority might the military, abortion rights, the Brady Bill, and the assault weapons ban. And he explained his opposition to the balanced budget amendment, California’s Proposition 187 and other nativist initiatives like Official English laws, and cuts in welfare and Medicaid. Then, in an almost plaintive mode, he engaged the eighty students in the lecture hall: “Tell people what I stand for. Remind them that what they see on television are Phil Gramm’s advertisements. Advertisements! You get that? You heard what I said, go tell your friends what I stand for.” L.D. 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER ..,,,wrooKaana, OCTOBER 11, 1996 -.011111110.1100111111.111Mtar”..
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