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champion in the all-important redistricting fight, which will be at the center of the next legislative session. “just think it shows how out of touch Sharp is with the majority of Texas Democrats,” Mauro said of Sharp’s support of Bradley. “If you listen to Sharp, and you listen to [Democratic consultant] Peck Young and all that crowd, the number one reason to be with Bill Bradley is you’re repudiating Bill Clinton. And I don’t think most Democrats are ready to repudiate Bill Clinton. Most Texas Democrats, and most Democrats nationally, think Bill Clinton did a very good job the last eight years. They like where the economy is. And considering we had a Republican Congress…. I mean he fought ’em to a standstill.” No matter who the Democratic nominee is, if Bush is the Republican candidate the national Democratic party is not likely to spend much in Texas this fall. That, more than anything else, is how the Bush family has killed the Texas Democratic Party, according to both Sharp and Mauro. No Democratic presidential candidate has seriously contested Texas since 1976, the last Bush-free ballot. “We may have done it for good reason,” Mauro said, “but your state party can’t survive if during national elections you don’t run any TV [ads] to put forth your party’s ideas.” Sharp estimates that the Republicans have spent $40 million on television advertising since 1980, to the Democrats’ $1 million. “Now if you give me forty to your one, I can convince you that breakfast isn’t good for you,” Sharp said. In 1996, when the Republicans finally ran another Bush-free ballot, Sharp, Mauro, Bob Bullock, and Dan Morales all went to D.C. together to plead with Clinton to run at least some TV in Texas. “We said, man, you can’t just leave us out here … even if y’all don’t think you’re gonna carry Texas,” Sharp said. But to no avail. Mauro said Clinton was receptive but it just wasn’t realistic. Sharp said promises were made but not fulfilled. Both agree that, barring a McCain miracle, it isn’t likely to happen this year, either. But the prospects for the party in Texas aren’t as grim as they may seem. There was even a silver lining to the drubbing the party took in 1998, Sharp said. “Despite the fact that the top of the ticket got beat worse than any Democrat has ever got beat in the history of the Democratic Party in the State [Sharp and Paul Hobby for Comptroller] still came within one point made up 18 points which is unprecedented.” Which strongly suggests that it was Bush and Bush alone that put Rick Perry and company in office. The question they may soon have to answer is: can they do it without him? Sharp likes to point out that among registered voters, there are 632,000 more “probable” \(based on demographic prostate. “I think the dynamics are just moving the wrong way for the Republicans right now and they know it,” Sharp said. “There are Republican consultants running around telling people to get all you can right now because this state ain’t gonna be Republican three or four years from now,” Sharp said. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that they \(or their Democratic counteranything other than “Get what you can, right now” under any circumstances, immi nent Democratic resurgence or no. Still, the demographics do look good for the Dems: roughly twenty years from now, two historically Democratic-voting ethnic groups, Hispanics and African Americans, will make up a majority of Texans. You still have to get them to vote, however. The last two off-year elections saw the lowest turnout in Texas history. As Mauro observed, “If Democrats want Democrats to vote Hispanics, blacks, working people they gotta be for things that Hispanics, blacks and working people care about. And they gotta talk about that when they run TV ads.” In 1998, Mauro said, he was the only one running those ads; Sharp’s focus was elsewhere. “I liked the one where he was shaking Bush’s hand,” Mauro said. N.B. REVOLTED BY. EXECUTIONS? Join the Amnesty International Campaign Against the Death Penalty. TM GET THE STATE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS ON-LINE Tough, investigative reporting; the wit and good sense of Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower; Political Intelligence; insightful cultural analysis; and much more. Check out Molly Ivins’ special subscription offer, too! Subscribe on-line or call The Texas Observer at 800-939-6620 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MARCH 17, 2000