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FEATURE Colorless Primaries PHONICS AND PHETUSES If any single event illustrated the difference between Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Pauken and Governor George W. Bush, it was the Republican Party state convention in Fort Worth in 1994 the year fundamentalist Christians seized control of the party machinery. Months earlier Pauken’s Christian right wing had started a campaign to dump Fred Meyer, the affable Dallas CEO who had run the Texas Republican Party since 1988. Meyer was a friend of President George Bush, and had served as a Texas fundraiser on the President’s campaign. But for Pauken and the party’s ascendant Christian congregants, Meyer was too moderate and not sufficiently dedicated to extending constitutional rights to the party’s new core constituency: the unborn. When Meyer saw the handwriting on the wall and announced he wouldn’t run, Phil Gramm and the secular establishment recruited Ennis Congressman Joe Barton as their candidate. Senator Gramm worked the hospitality suites \(1994 was the year bartenders were of the American Family Association of Texas, anti-gay activist Steve Hotze of Citizens for American Restoration, and Dick Weinhold of the Texas Christian Coalition made the rounds for Pauken. Dolly Madison McKenna stood before the convention and said, “The Republican Party is not a church,” while delegates stood and booed. Tom Pauken prevailed in the district caucuses without even a floor fight for the chair. Yet George Bush accepted his party’s gubernatorial nomination in an eight-minute speech that included no mention of the rights of the unborn. It’s 1998, the Governor has learned to love the Christian right \(his recent public embrace of phonics is the political equivalent of good reason. As state party chair, Pauken has been a constant and public critic of the Governor. But he really went over the top last spring, when the House was preparing to vote on property tax reform and Pauken used party money to buy ads in East Texas newspapers, urging Republicans to “Say No to George Bush’s’ Tax Increase.” Now we have the Governor running for reelection and for president while Pauken is running for an office that would put him in charge of hundreds of attorneys, allow him the right to file suits and , to conduct some inquiries , into government wrongdoing, provide him with a huge budget, and establish him as the ultimate arbiter of the state’s law. If Tom Pauken wins the A.G. race in the Republican primary, in November the Governor will be , running three ballot spots above his own independent counsel. That’s what makes the attorney general’s race the most interesting contest in the Republican party. \(Democrats bored with a party primary about as exciting as a Dolph Briscoe campaign speech might want to cross over, and The Governor is waiting to see if either one of two secular Republicans, John Cornyn or Barry Williamson, can force Pauken A Attorney General candidate Tom Pauken Katy Adams into a runoff. Cornyn is a faithful but at least thoughtful vote, on the most pro-business and anti-consumer Supreme Court to ever sit in Texas. Williamson is an oil-and-gas rich boy elected to the Railroad Commission to regulate the oil-and-gas industry. Candidates for attorney general, unable to turn on voters with campaigns that address the functions of the office \(child 7care, consumer issues, the , and state executions to attract public attention. For a while it seemed as if Cornyn was going to take the, high road to defeat, by refusing even, to suggest, that he was running for the state’s highest prosecutorial office. . But a month , before early voting started, he dragged out a few crime victims and a former F.B.I. agent and veered into a tough-on-crime/victims’-rights campaign. Pauken is ahead in fundraising, including $30,000 in one quarter from James Lightner, aretired Defense Department contractor from Dallas who briefly loaned Railroad Commission candidate Steve Stockman $75,000 to create the illusion of a well-funded campaign. In Texas, where there are no caps on contributions or spending, 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER FEBRUARY 27, 1998