Perry's Hispanic ploy
As I have said in prior articles, Perry would appoint a Hispanic to replace Gramm in order to appear to cater to the Hispanic voters and to counter the effect of Tony Sanchez and any other Democratic Hispanic candidates in the November 2002 election.
But as the following article shows, any appointed Senator would have to serve in the Senate and at the same time campaign for the special election and the election in November 2002. This is an impossible task and would have set David Dewhurst up to win the Republican Primary leaving Mr. Bonilla out in the cold.
Yet Perry could say that he was pro Hispanic candidates when it truth the appointment would be no more than a political maneuver.
That being said, I hope that Phil Gramm does not resign early because we need his experience in the Senate as we try to deal with world terrorism.
September 16, 2001
Gramm's early departure unlikely
by Jay Root
Star-Telegram Austin Bureau
AUSTIN - With the nation in mourning and perhaps at the brink of war, the jockeying to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm has slowed to a crawl, but that could be changing soon.
Also on hold, if not extinguished, is talk of an early departure by Gramm. The senator's aides have said forcefully that Gramm had no intention of stepping aside early as some Republicans had wanted. And Republican Gov. Rick Perry was rebuked by Gramm staffers for saying the retiring senator was still going through a "thought process" about resigning.
"It seems like the steam has gone out of that idea," said Gramm press secretary Larry Neal. "His determination to serve out the term was total before this tragedy occurred. He has great enthusiasm for dealing with the issues raised by this attack on the United States."
The theory, of course, is that an early departure by Gramm would allow Perry to name a temporary replacement who would then go into the automatically called special election with an enormous advantage.
There's just one problem: Since the direct election of senators began in the early 1900s, not a single appointed Texas senator has ever gone on to win election to the post; the history of appointed senators nationally has also been replete with disaster.
"They don't have a good track record," said Don Ritchie, a U.S. Senate historian. "They have name recognition, and they're in the news a bit, but they haven't earned it through the primary and often they haven't sort of tested themselves."
Of the 174 men and women tapped to fill a Senate post nationwide, only 55 were subsequently chosen by voters to hold the seat; the same number were defeated and 64 either chose not to or were unable to stand for election, Senate statistics show.
Nationally, some famous examples include former Minnesota Gov. Wendell Anderson, who resigned and had the former lieutenant governor appoint him senator. Although very popular as governor, he was trounced by Republican Rudy Boschwitz in the special election.
Likewise, Democrat Pierre Salinger, a former aide to President Kennedy, had been favored to win in 1964 after being appointed to temporarily hold the seat of California Democrat Clair Engle, who died in office. He was beaten by George Murphy, an actor and close friend of former President Ronald Reagan.
"He always thought that accepting the appointment had been a mistake, that he should have spent his time campaigning," Ritchie said.
Four times since voters began picking senators, Texas governors have been called upon to appoint replacements, and none held the job for more than a few months.
Democrat William Blakley was appointed twice: in 1957 to fill in for Price Daniel, who had resigned to become governor, and in 1961, to take over for Lyndon Baines Johnson, who had been elected vice president.
But he never won election to the job, and his defeat during a special election in 1961 was a big blow to the Democrats: it led to the election of John Tower, the first Republican to hold the post since Reconstruction.
Bob Krueger also knows a thing or two about appointed senators. Former Gov. Ann Richards tapped him in 1993 to fill the vacancy created when Lloyd Bentsen resigned to become Treasury secretary. A few months later, Kay Bailey Hutchison trounced him in a special election. Since then, no Democrat has been elected governor or U.S. senator.
Krueger said it is difficult to be thrust into a new job and a hot campaign simultaneously - constraints his opponent did not have.
"If the person were able to be in longer than five or six months, then he or she would be able to show something about their capacities," said Krueger, who is now writing a book about his subsequent experience as a U.S. ambassador in Africa. "And if you try to have as much time campaigning as your opponent who is in the state while you're in Washington, then you cast so few votes that they begin to attack you for that."
Among the candidates mentioned for possible appointment should Gramm suddenly step down is Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio. Attempts to reach Bonilla or a spokesman were not successful.
Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, who has emerged as the leading Republican possibility, is expected to announce his intention to run in coming weeks.
Land Commissioner David Dewhurst, also a Republican, is said to be considering abandoning his campaign for lieutenant governor to run in the Senate race. He recently released a statement saying he had suspended all political activities for now, but a source said he is still considering the race.
Jay Root, (512) 476-4294 firstname.lastname@example.org
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