ustxtxb_obs_2000_03_17_50_00003-00000_000.pdf

Page 14

by

THIS ISSUE 1 DEPARTMENTS FEATURE Dialogue 2 Carlos Hank’s NAFTA Bank by Louis Dubose 8 Editorial 3 In a Laredo lawsuit, the issues seem to be technical and financial. The Mauro Effect by Nate Will the Fed and the D.E.A. agree? Blakeslee The Land of Milk and Money by Michael King 13 Left Field The Bush Beat, Political 5 In Tampa this June, reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson blow the whistle on TV journalism and its corporate puppeters. Products & Reefer Madness Is This the Year for Nader? by Dan Hamburg 16 Texas Bulletin Board 19 If you’ve had enough of the choices offered in this year’s U.S. Political Intelligence 20 demonstration elections, consider Public Citizen No. I. James Galbraith 22 Alan Greenspan’s Sabotage Molly Ivins 24 Las Americas 26 Jim Hightower Happy Stats, HMOphobia 23 Hot Air about Dirty Air Mexico’s Student Rebellion by John Ross & Caine Mutiny EDITORIAL The Mauro Effect BOOKS AND THE CULTURE Clarity 28 Poetry by Bruce Snider Unsporting Aggie 29 Book Review by Robert Heard Gambling Brothers 32 Book Review by Betsy Berry Cowtown Poetry 36 Book Review by Dave Oliphant Afterword 38 How the West Was Sold by Bill Adler The Back Page 40 Bush Rappin’ by Aram Saroyan Cover Photo by Caleb Bolch The primary season has become a wistful time for Texas Democrats. Back in the Yellow Dog era, before the Republicans got a foothold, only the Democratic primary mattered. That was before the dawn of the dynasty called Bush. The twenty-year rise of the Texas Republican Party culminating in the sweep of every single statewide office and control of the state Senate for the first time since Reconstruction has coincided with the ascendancy of the Bush clan, father and son. Ever since Ronald Reagan selected Bush the Elder as his 1980 running mate, it’s hard to recall a time when Democrats weren’t dealing with the down-ballot effects of a popular Bush at the top of the ticket: from Bush senior on the presidential tickets from 1980’92, to George W.’s gubernatorial candidacies in ’94 and ’98. It’s no coincidence that the Democrats’ best years during that span were years with rare Bush-free ballots: 1982, when Mark White, Jim Hightower, Ann Richards, and Garry Mauro first took office; and 1990, when Ann Richards became Governor and Dan Morales Attorney General. Asked to assess the future of the party this primary season, Democrats Garry Mauro and John Sharp agree that the best way the only way to bring the Democrats back is to end the Bush dynasty. Not surprisingly, the two men disagree on how to do that: Mauro is managing the Texas campaign of Al Gore; Sharp has taken the helm for Bill Bradley. Sharp, the former comptroller, and Mauro, former land commissioner, have a history of butting heads that goes back to their days as politically ambitious classmates at Texas A&M. Sharp blames Mauro for the circumstances that led to Sharp’s narrow loss to Rick Perry in the 1998 lieutenant governor’s race. Against the advice of many in his own party \(who felt the governor’s race should have been funded and well-liked Bush, producing what Sharp has come to call “The Mauro Effect”: because voters focus on the top of the ticket, and because Mauro never got close to Bush in the polls, Democratic turnout was depressed and down-ballot candidates went down with Mauro. If the Dems had left the governor’s line blank, Sharp’s theory goes, then media and voter focus would have been on Sharp’s closely fought contest with Rick Perry. Also, without an opponent, Bush and his war chest wouldn’t have been a factor in 1998. “You’ve got a man sittin’ over there with $20 million in the bank who’s got to prove that he’s stronger than horseradish … Well, he couldn’t have done that, if he was on the ballot by himself. But instead he just hammered us.” It’s a lesson Sharp said the Republicans learned in 1982, when the Rs ran an underdog named Jim Collins for U.S. Senate against powerful Democratic incumbent Lloyd Bentsen. “Lloyd got mad; they gave him an excuse to spend a bijillion dollars. He uncorked, [then-Lieutenant Governor] Bill Hobby uncorked, and all of a sudden Mark White was elected, Ann Richards was elected, Jim Hightower was elected…. So they learned,” Sharp concluded. “They don’t run people against Democrats when they know . they don’t have a chance.” It was fear of the Mauro Effect that Sharp says kept him away from the Gore campaign. “At the time Bradley got in, there were a whole bunch of us who believed that Gore would have one hell of a time winning, and on top of that, his negatives were so high in Texas 43 percent, last time I checked. And a lot of us were nervous about what that would do down the ballot. We had just been through it … and we didn’t want the party completely wiped out as it almost was before [in 1998],” he said. This year, down-ballot slots will be crucial for the Democrats, who have made their priority winning back the Senate \(by taking Drew Nixon’s former seat in East Texas, the single most crucial race of the House Speaker’s chair by maintaining their six-seat majority in the House. Without Laney, the Democrats would lack a THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3 MARCH 17, 2000