Page 26


Barnes would only say for the record that he never told anyone not to give to Mauro, although he did not support him and he supported Sharp. And Tidwell said he in no way interfered with Mauro’s fundraising. Several trial lawyers did support Mauro and the Trial Lawyers’ PAC focused on legislative races. Bernard Rapoport, the Waco insurance company C.E.O. who served as treasurer for Mauro’s campaign and was one of his most generous supporters, said he couldn’t conceive of Barnes interfering with anyone’s fundraising. “That’s not like Barnes at all,” Rapoport said. Rapoport added that a lot of Mauro’s friends and supporters, including himself, did not want him to run in a race he couldn’t win. “But once he decided he was going to run,” Rapoport said, “there was no question as to what I was going to do.” Rapoport also said he had wanted Mauro to run on a much more liberal platform. Sharp described Rogers’ charge as “pure bullshit.” “I actively encouraged Garry not to run, back when he was considering it unless he could raise enough money be a credible candidate. I told him, if you can’t mount a credible statewide TV campaign, you’re going to drag the whole ticket down. That’s what he did. “Once he decided to run, I wanted him to raise money. We knew if he could hold Bush to 65 percent, we would win. He didn’t, and he put a big hill in front of us. And he took the whole ticket down with him.” Peck Young also describes Mauro’s fundraising as an impossible task: “He wasn’t going to get any money because people only give money to guys who have chances of winning. It was tragic but it’s true. Guys who give big money in politics are usually pretty clever individuals or they wouldn’t have the big money in the first place. And these guys that give money in an amount in which anybody gives a shit, you normally don’t tell them what to do.” The real issue, Young said, was lack of unity and the failure to run a coordinated campaign. Young, who has worked for Sharp in the past but this year worked on Congressional and state Senate races, recently circulated what one source described as “a blistering memo.” Young would not provide a copy of the memo, which he said he did for the State Democratic Party chair. But a brief interview with him suggests that Democratic disunity must have been the subject of the memo. And unity is a lot more than standing on stage together. The failure of the top of the ticket to run together, Young said, cost Sharp and Hobby their elections. “The sad truth of the matter is that in two statewide races, the failure to turn out our GOTV[Get Out the Vote program] counties, and the failure in Sharp’s case to get the appropriate percentages, is what cost them the election. If there had been a unified ticket, they might have had enough money to do [collaborative party] GOTV in those counties, which they didn’t. And because they didn’t, those counties didn’t vote at levels that we anticipated, which were approximately ’94 levels. “They didn’t vote at that level because they didn’t fully fund. If you ask the Democratic Party, you’ll find that the GOTV program for the state party, instead of being fully funded, was funded at 25 percent of what it should have been. If it had been funded at 75 percent, Sharp and Hobby probably would have won.” Sharp, who did make a small contribution to the party program that coordinates voter turnout effort, essentially went his own way in the lieutenant governor’s race. As did Hobby in his race with Carole Keaton Rylander. Both went after the suburban vote, with a TV message that aimed at Republicans but essentially ignored Democrats. “There was a Democratic campaign run in thiS state,” Rogers said. “George Bush ran it. He promised in his television commercials to give teachers a pay raise and reduce class size. Rick Perry ran a Democratic campaign. He promised to give teachers a pay raise. A $5,000 pay raise for master teachers. He promised to reduce class size. Carole Rylander ran on a teacher pay raise and promised she’d be the education watchdog. “All the while, John Sharp is running a TV spot that says I’m nobody’s man. Perry was talking about something people really care about. Nobody’s man? What the hell is that?” The result, Rogers said, was that “Sharp runs eight points behind what Ann Richards did in Collin County. In every major suburban county in the state, John Sharp’s performance was worse than Ann Richards’. And he spent $6.7 million on television.” Young agreed that Sharp’s pursuit of the swing vote cost him the election. “Basically, Sharp and Hobby gambled they could win with swing voters and they did not, they lost the swing vote. And they gambled so heavily, they didn’t turn out their vote.” There are other theories. One major Democratic funder and former statewide office holder \(who would not be quoted by at all, that if Bush had been unopposed he wouldn’t have raised and spent so much money. “I’ll tell you what made a difference,” he said. “Bush’s twenty-million-plus that he spent in the campaign. If Mauro wouldn’t have run, Bush wouldn’t have had an excuse to spend it. If Bush hadn’t spent the money to get the vote out, I think Hobby and Sharp would have won 55 to 45.” But Mauro did run. Bush did spend his money. And Hobby and Sharp each outspent their Republican opponent and lost. Sharp not only ran from Mauro, he ran to the right of Rick Perry, and toward George Bush. He ran ads attacking the “welfare cheats” he had outsmarted with the comptroller’s Lone Star Card. He ran ads focused on violent criminals who had outsmarted Rick Perry by using a measure Perry voted for in the House to win their release from prison and commit more violent crime. In a state that is forty-seventh in social service benefits, Sharp beat up on welfare cheats. And while the public is so outraged with white-collar crime that Time is boosting supermarket rack sales with three consecutive covers on corporate welfare, John Sharp ran the same Willie Horton campaign that George Herbert Walker Bush used to defeat Mike Dukakis. In the one election year in which Republican excess made a philandering and putatively liberal Democratic President an asset, John Sharp ran from his party. He ran a TV spot that included a news clip of himself and Governor Bush. And when George W. and his father used their TV ads to embrace Rick Perry, Sharp ended up 100,000 votes short. “Both of those guys managed to figure out a strategy that got them beat,” Young said. “It was supposed to carry the swing vote and somehow turn our base vote out without doing anything mechanically. And guess what. One of them is going to clip coupons and one of them is going to sell real estate for four years.” L.D. DECEMBER 4, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5