Texas Gov. George W. Bush wins in landslide
(AllPolitics, November 3) -- George W. Bush ran away with the Texas governor's race Tuesday to defeat his Democrat rival, Garry Mauro, marking the first time an incumbent has retained the seat in nearly 25 years.
Bush made strong inroads within typically reliable Democratic groups, including 21 percent of the vote among African-Americans.
The win, coupled with his brother Jeb Bush's victory in Florida, makes this the first time siblings have governed at the same time since Nelson and Winthrop Rockefeller ran New York and Arkansas in the 1970s.
Bush's chief concern in the final days of the campaign was that his supporters would look so confidently at his huge lead in the polls that they would not bother to vote.
Before a single ballot was cast, analysts said Bush would become the first Texas governor in a quarter of a century to be re-elected to consecutive terms. The only real question was: Would the baseball team executive and former oil and gas company executive run for president in the year 2000?
Logistically, Bush's campaign against Democrat land commissioner Mauro had the feel of a presidential bid. Bush is the son of former President George Bush. Beyond the golden Rolodex that comes with the Bush name, the governor's operation was a well-oiled machine that, given the odds in this race, looked like piling on.
Mauro, with two decades of experience in Democratic politics, had trouble getting enough money to get his message out about lowering auto insurance rates and eliminating the car tax. He also attacked Bush for not giving teachers a pay raise to get their salaries up to the national average so good instructors would stay in the classrooms.
Bush touted himself as a fiscal conservative and his campaign staff pointed out millions of dollars of consumer tax cuts in the state budget for 1999.
Texas is traditional Republican territory. Nearly half of the state's votes are cast in the two large metro areas of Dallas and Fort Worth.
Bush was predicted to win with the 20 percent to 25 percent of the Hispanic vote that Republican candidates usually get. But Bush wanted 40 percent. He has fought against English-only campaigns and pushed other programs important to Texas' Hispanic voters. Bush said his efforts were not just about putting a new face on the Republican party -- it was about bringing new faces into the party.
"People want leadership that unites, not divides. You can't bash people and lead," Bush said. His style is to set out his position in a soothing manner then lambast what he regards as the failed liberal culture of his own generation.
Some political analysts predicted Bush's momentum and coattails could cause Democrats to lose every statewide office on the ballot. That would give the GOP a great impact on the casting of Texas' 32 electoral votes in the presidential race in 2000. Texas ranks third, after California's 54 and New York's 33 electoral votes. It also gives the GOP a great position to be in for the redistricting after the new census.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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