but Republicans had to strike while they had the opportunity. After all, look how long it was taking just to pass redistricting. “I think [Cathie Adams] is more idealistic than I can be,” Richardson concluded. But Adams explained to the club that it was the leadership’s use of the majority to ram through tort reform, paying no heed to the other side that first alarmed her. After establishing her Republican credentials by pledging support for Perry, the Texas Eagle Forum President told how she loves to watch the Lege debate. But on “tort reform,” that is not what she witnessed. a chairnot stand behind the podiumcross his legs, fold his hands, and cock his head. The word out on the floor was vote against every amendment,” she recalled. “I wanted to watch a debate. If somebody has a better argument on the Democratic side, then so be it. If somebody has a better argument on the Republican side, then so be it. But that wasn’t the case.” Her apprehension grew after she talked with several freshmen Republicans whom she had helped to elect. “They were being pressured in a major way, ‘vote for no amendments’,” she learned. “That is a corruption of a system. It doesn’t work that way in order to produce excellent legislation.” Later, out of earshot of her fellow. Republicans,Adams worried about the impact of such tactics on her party “If we are going to be telling everybody to be rubber stamps for somebody else’s agenda, then we are crippling the whole process,” she said. “I think we are making the party weak by doing this.” That “somebody else,” she made clear in her talk, was big insurance. “I think we need to shine a light on those insurance companiesthe ones that were sitting with that committee and that bill author writing this bill,” she told the dozen or so gathered for the luncheon. It was the industry’s losses in the stock market that have caused malpractice and homeowner’s insurance rates to skyrocket, she explained. High rates were not the result of lawsuits, just as Prop 12 would not bring about meaningful tort reform. And ultimately, Adams believed that Prop 12 represented an elitism that ran counter to “the independent-minded” spirit of Texas. “Am I going to trust that sausage factory in Austin to set non-economic damages or am I going to trust the millions of Texas jurists?”Adams asked. “We have to have men and women of integrity down there who will think for themselves.” Richardson allowed only a few questions. The scattered comments focused on greedy ambulance chasers and fears that there would be no trauma care to help kids after an accident enroute to Padre Island. It appeared Adams had not made much of a dent. Later, after the luncheon, Adams acknowledged that she might well suffer for her strong stance. “I got a comment from a person for whom I have a lot of respect that my access to certain elected officials may be hampered in the future, that I may have problems,” she said. “I don’t know what those will be. All I know is that I’m doing what my conscience is telling me to doI sleep well at nightthat matters a lot more to me.” As the Mexican help cleared away the salad bar, Richardson confided that the constitutional amendment was not written exactly as she may have liked. p articipants on both sides of the left-right coalition to defeat Prop 12 laud Rob Allyn’s media campaign. The wealthy trial lawyers who bankrolled most of the anti-Prop 12 effort chose Allyn to help craft and disseminate their message. The Dallas-based political consultant has spent the past 20 years running campaigns for Republicans. Reached by phone two days after the defeat, Allyn describes an obvious, but important reality that informed his campaign: “Republicans are consumers too.” Allyn seized upon several approaches with crossover appeal. “We took it off its ideological, partisan plane,” he contends. He positioned opponents of Prop 12 as seeking to protect courts, juries, and judges. Proponents of the measure were painted as big insurance companies and business lobbyists. “It was about keeping power in the hands of juries and courts, not those of elected officials and special interests,” explains Allyn. In this, the campaign was aided by a noticeable public antipathy toward the Texas Legislature. To play on this amongst Republicans and anti-government independents, Allyn crafted a mailer noting the Democratic flight to Ardmore and Albuquerque and asking whether voters wanted to trust such politicians to set lawsuit limits. He stressed the value of human life. Who should be trusted to measure it? Finally, in a conservative, tradition-bound state, Allyn wrapped his campaign in the defense of the constitution, glossing over its less than inviolate history. In Allyn’s estimation, his two most successful advertisements involved a frontal attack on Rep. Nixon \(the sponsor of tort accident victim. After those commercials, he said, Prop 12 proponents dropped 20 points in the polls. The grassroots campaign to stop Prop 12 mobilized almost organically, relying heavily on members of the coalition and locally driven efforts. A month before the vote, and independent of the main body of trial lawyers, Ralph Nader’s Democracy Rising sent down an organizer named Jason Kafoury. “There was an intense focus by both sides to try and hit likely voters,” said Kafoury. “I thought [Prop 12] would affect everybody” He focused on getting the word out. His group organized the distribution of 180,000 small pamphlets and staged 25 separate events. They also relied heavily on phone banks, as did Allyn. Kafoury tapped into a new activism spurred by redistricting. “There was a lot of grassroots volunteers,” he says. “People were fired up.” Kafoury and others identified leaders from the coalition continued on. page 15 9126103 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7
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