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may find it difficult to ply their trade in the next legislative session. Republicans in all state races will receive a boost from the Governor’s presidential campaign, as the best-funded candidate in history floods the airwaves with TV and radio ads. The national Democratic party, meanwhile, is unlikely to spend any money challenging the Governor in Texas \(assuming he gets the nomiform of an assurance from House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, who has reportedly promised that all Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee money raised in Texas will be spent on Texas races. That means more TV and other advertising in districts where a Democratic Congressman has a contested race, which will boost turnout for all Democratic candidates. It also frees up other Democratic money to go to state-level candidates. As John Sharp observes, even in the disastrous 1998 elections, state-level Democrats candidates did well in districts which also hosted a Congressional contest. PAINTER VS. WORLD, II. In the mind of Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter, Wyatt Earp still patrols the high plains, Ronald Reagan presides over the White House, the sheriff’s word is still the law of the land, the Texas Attorney General is just another lawyer, and the drug war is the only war we’ve got. As Nate Blakeslee reported \(“The Law West of the Pecos,” Delatest project is S.T.A.R. \(Sheriffs of Texas sheriff’s deputies from across the state. Ostensibly conceived as a statewide emergency response team, Painter and his chief deputy Clayton McKinney have been training the group in drug interdiction and tactiwith armored personnel carriers, automatic weapons, fatigues, etc. S.T.A.R. has become an issue in Painter’s campaign for his fifth term as sheriff. Republican primary opponent Mike Hall labeled the operation a waste of taxpayers’ money and Midland County deputies’ time. He says he will discontinue it if he wins the primary \(there is no DemoMorrow has requested a ruling from John Cornyn about the legality of S.T.A.R., askthority to contract with other sheriffs without approval of the commissioners court, state’s own Emergency Management System. The state’s emergency plan, created by statute, “is a pretty complicated system,” Morrow told Political Intelligence. Each governmental entity has its prescribed duties and obligations none of which call for army tanks or armored personnel carriers, Morrow points out. At issue is the county’s liability for damage to people or property during a S.T.A.R. operation or training session, several of which have taken place hundreds of miles from Midland. It’s the same issue that fueled Painter’s battle with an earlier commissioners court, when then-County Judge Bro Seltzer successfully reined in Painter’s outof-county drug operations. The judge has yet to hear from the Attorney General, but Painter and company apparently aren’t holding their breath. “If they outlaw the agreement, hell, we don’t care,” Clayton McKinney told the Midland Reporter-Telegram. “It don’t change anything.” It appears the voters of Midland County will get their say before the A.G. does: the Republican primary is March 14. GOD’S PROSECUTOR. Ever since he helped put together the Houston “Straight Slate” to punish a mayor and city council members who backed gay and lesbian employment rights, Dr. Steve Hotze has been doing God’s work in the Devil’s city. The Houston Republican M.D. promotes what he considers a Bible-based political philosophy, and in the March primary is supporting a candidate who defines the extreme right in Harris County politics. Chuck Rosenthal is one of five Republicans in the race to oppose Jim Dougherty, the lone Democrat hoping to replace retiring Harris County District Attorney Johnny Holmes. Houston Chronicle political reporter Julie Mason described Republican D.A. candidate forums as pretty close to “howling at the moon.” Mason took Rosenthal to task for describing the D.A.’s office as insensitive to minorities then referring to Asians as “Orientals.” And while it’s hard to imagine anyone with stronger capital punishment convictions than Holmes his office leads the nation in capital murder prosecutions Rosenthal promises to bring a novel twist to the application of the state’s death penalty statute. He describes the death penalty as a “biblical proposition,” and argues that “government is instituted by God and has the authority to carry out God’s law.” Rosenthal told the Chronicle he realizes that some people have concerns about God in politics. “I understand the squeamishness of it.” GOD’S LOBBYIST FINED. Hotze’s Conservative Republicans of Harris County set a record at the Texas Ethics Commission, which levied a $5,000 fine against the PAC that has a history of attacking moderate Republicans. Two other Hotze PACs, Citizens for Restoration \(which advocates New Testament content in public school curricuwere also fined a combined total of $1,900. Charges include failure to comply with state law requiring full disclosure of the source and use of political funds, and failure to properly label and identify political mailings. Hotze is a major player in Houston Republican politics and at one time his tactics were so divisive that there were two Harris County Republican parties. One complaint was filed by Betsy Lake, the former Republican Party Chair driven from office by the Hotze Repubs. Hotze’s pre-primary mailings make or break county Republican candidates, and one of the fines levied was for a pre-primary mailing that appeared to be a party mailout but listed only PAC endorsements. Hotze also recently went after an incumbent George W. Bush appointee to the bench in Houston, supporting the challenger. According to Houston Press political columnist Tim Fleck, Hotze’s snubbing of Judge Martha Hill Jamison, a Democratturned-Republican, started a foodfight at a prayer luncheon where Phil Gramm was the keynote speaker. Hotze stiffed another luncheon guest, Republican Judge Sharolyn Wood, who has served on the bench in Houston for eighteen years. Hotze endorsed a mediator, K. Allan Davis, who got the PAC’s blessing because he is a devout Baptist. Several contributors called demanding that Conservative Republicans of Harris County return money contributed to sponsor the prayer luncheon. MARCH 17, 2000 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21