by Anoukin MooshabadDaily Cougar Staff
Congressional candidate Victor Morales faced a number of tough questions during a press conference on the UH campus Friday. Prominent among the questions were references to charges by his opponent, U.S. Rep. John Bryant of Dallas, who has said the reason Morales gained many votes is because his last name is the same as Texas Attorney General Dan Morales'.
Morales said he has met thousands of people so far during his campaign and added that hundreds of people asked him if he was related to Dan Morales.
"(That) let me know real quick that they know the difference, that I am not Dan Morales," he said. "The last few weeks have been kind of fun because listening to people constantly tell me, `Who do they think we are? Do they think we are that ignorant that we don't know the difference?' I have been hearing that every single day.
"Now, did the name `Morales' ring a bell and help in some way? Possibly, but you know that is neither here nor there. People by and large voted for me because I was the teacher, the hard-working person across the state, or whatever."
In answer to a question about why he chose to campaign across the state from the back of his pickup truck, Morales said, "My wife would not let me use the van. That's not a joke. She has a nice van and my 9- and 10-year-olds ride with her. So it was also a logistical thing."
Morales said his truck gets good gas mileage and is dependable, although he admitted it is a little uncomfortable on long trips.
He said he told a TV reporter in Austin that his truck is the transportation he can afford. "There is no deep political strategy behind this. It's what I have to get around," Morales said.
Questions regarding campaign financing also arose during the press conference, particularly questions about how much of his own money Morales has contributed to his campaign.
"Immediately after talking with my wife, I took $8,000 out of the $10,000 in my savings and spent that," he said. "Not to mention that between June and November, I spent $500 to $600 of my teacher money for traveling. And then, after that, I gave up my salary for five months, $2,300 a month. If I win Tuesday night, that's my salary up until December. So this is a very hard hit I am taking financially."
The Dallas school teacher said several factors led him to enter the race. He said people had been asking him for years to run for some office.
"They said, `You're honest. You always try to understand things. Why don't you run?' " Morales said. "I would say, `No,' because I didn't honestly think that a person who told the truth could possibly win."
He said his experience as a government teacher and a city councilman makes him qualified to challenge the incumbent, Phil Gramm.
"Here is a man who has a podium of the United States Senate, and instead of using it in a constructive, positive way, he's using it to further his political career. I have had enough," Morales said about Gramm.
He said that after he tried unsuccessfully to determine who else intended to challenge to be the Democratic contender, he decided to jump into the race.
"Victor Morales -- school teacher, in a pickup truck, with no money, no power brokers, no big-time political experience -- is going to take a whack at it," he said. "Some people might have said I was Don Quixote, but I said that I was going to be a good Don Quixote; watch me."
Morales said that if he is elected, he intends to do what he can for education.
"I am also very concerned, as a minority, about affirmative action being cut, because I do not feel, at this time, we are ready to do that. There are still people who have the mindset of the old days who make it harder for the door to be opened. So I think we should clean it up, as Mr. Clinton said."
He said he is also concerned about government waste.
"We all know that in every single program, whether it be government or even business, sometimes you can find waste, you can find problems," he said. "This is a very complicated problem. Jobs and daycare need to be there for women who want daycare. The fact that many people are on food stamps, etc., it's not their fault that their husbands left them or beat them."
Morales said he is a supporter of bilingual education, Head Start and affirmative action.