What's The Hold Up Guv?
This past weekend, former GOP Governor Bill Clements penned an op-ed that appeared in the Chron advising U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison not to take on incumbent Governor Rick Perry. Clements claims that in 1978, a Dem primary battle between then Governor Dolph Briscoe and his challenger, then Attorney General John Hill, ripped the Dem Party apart and we haven't been the same since. Clements warns Hutchison that the same could happen to GOPers in 2006.
I won't argue with Clements on his points, after all he was one of the major players in 1978 - he also spent a whole lot of his own money to win. That same year, Commentary - before Commentary - was a major player with the Bob Krueger campaign against GOP Senator John Tower. Going into 1978, Dems hadn't lost the Governorship since - since Reconstruction. After Hill beat Briscoe, the Hill campaign thought that history was on their side so complacency set in. The Clements campaign was more aggressive, and by the time the Hill campaign figured out they had a fight on their hands, it was too late.
I'm sure there are some folks still around that were part of the Hill campaign that will dispute what Commentary has to say - well then you tell me why you guys got beat, and don't cop out and blame it on Jimmy Carter. Come to think of it, there really has not been that much written about the 1978 elections and their lasting impact. I kind of think the Dem leadership at that time would just as soon forget about 1978. Commentary will never forget. The Krueger-Tower race was the most watched race in the country that year. The Hill guys were already jockeying for staff positions and key board appointments - remember who was in line for Secretary of State? Meanwhile, the Clements guys were eating their lunch - and it had an impact on my guy. Clements makes a good point about '78, but there were other factors.
May 24, 2005, 9:00AM