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Wednesday, November 4, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 52

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About the Cougar

Bush, HISD school bonds win by landslide

Sharp, Perry ran neck-and-neck for lieutenant governor; Republicans win key seats in state government

By Jim Parsons
Editor in Chief 

In an overwhelming victory over Democratic challenger Garry Mauro, incumbent Texas Gov. George W. Bush was voted into a second consecutive four-year term in Tuesday's elections.

Bush, who had received nearly 70 percent of the vote, was considered a strong frontrunner in the race for governor throughout the election. Polls showed he had solid support in socioeconomic groups across the board.

In fact, many observers said they thought the fact that Bush was seen as the probable winner may have contributed to low voter turnout in this election -- an expected 30 percent statewide, down from 50 percent in 1994.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart," Bush told a crowd of supporters in Austin during his election speech Tuesday. "Tonight's victory is a victory of ideas built on a philosophy that is conservative and compassionate."

Bush's campaign stressed family, compassion, education and personal responsibility. He strongly advocated improvements to Texas schools, proposing more stringent requirements for students advancing through grade levels in elementary and middle schools and a $203-million program to help Texas students learn to read, and also proposed tax cuts.

"This victory is a mandate for tax cuts," he said.

The news of Bush's victory came after word that his brother Jeb had won his race as governor of Florida. "Good going, brother," Bush said.

Political observers see Bush's victory as a clear springboard to the White House, should be choose to run for president in 2000. In the Chronicle-Morning News survey, 56 percent of respondents said they want Bush to run for president.

However, he did not indicate his plans for higher office Tuesday, saying that he would focus on running the state now.

In his concession speech, Mauro said he remains committed to the issues in his platform, "Texas Families First," which called for more police on the streets, giving Texans choice in their health care, implementing tax cuts and making changes in schools including smaller classes and teacher pay raises.

The outcomes of other statewide races were less easy to predict. Vying for the office of lieutenant governor were Republican Rick Perry and Democrat John Sharp, who received the endorsements of the Chronicle, the AFL-CIO and the local Planned Parenthood organization, among others.

The lieutenant governor race was highlighted by negative campaigning, including one advertisement in which Sharp's campaign accused Perry of voting in favor of a bill that allowed the parole of a criminal who then raped and murdered a 15-year-old Brazoria County girl.

However, 77 percent of voters said the ads did not change their views of either candidate. At press time, the race was still too close to call, with Perry holding a fairly steady 2-percent lead through most of the evening. With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Perry had 50.3 percent of the vote as opposed to Sharpis 48 percent.

In the race for state attorney general, Republican John Cornyn overcame a September lead held by Democratic opponent and former attorney general Jim Mattox to win the seat.

Cornyn, a former state Supreme Court justice, said he believed his conservative record appealed to voters.

The contest for state comptroller also ran extremely close. With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Paul Hobby trailed Republican Carole Keeton Rylander, former mayor of Austin, by 0.9 percent of the vote.

But in a clear local decision, residents of the Houston Independent School District voted by a more than 2-to-1 ratio to approve the HISD school bond package, which will allow the district to construct 10 new schools and repair 69 existing ones.

"We understand this to mean that Houston is desirous of a great school system, and we're going to do everything in our power to make that come true," said HISD Superintendent Rod Paige.

The outcome of the bond election was in question prior to Tuesday, since voters turned down a similar $390-million proposal in 1996. But this year's proposition may have been helped by its supporters, who included Houston Mayor Lee Brown, former Mayor Bob Lanier, the Harris County Democratic Party and the AFL-CIO.

The $678-million figure is only a portion of the estimated $1.2-billion total cost of necessary HISD repairs.
 

Reach Parsons at
dcougar@mail.uh.edu.
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