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An Army of One

The March 12 Democratic primary election for the U.S. Senate among Texas high school teacher Victor Morales, former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, and three now- vanquished challengers has become Floridesque.

Election-night totals showed Mr. Morales about 5,300 votes ahead of Mr. Kirk, with each man getting about a third of the vote. Then state officials last week released revised totals putting Mr. Kirk up by 243 votes. Finally, late last week, based on the correction of a mistake by a North Texas county, Mr. Morales moved slightly ahead again.

Either way, the two men meet in a runoff next week to determine who will face Texas Attorney General John Cornyn in the November general election.

And, either way, Mr. Morales faces what is becoming a lonely battle, based on the list on his opponent's Web site of elected officials who have endorsed Mr. Kirk.

That long tally includes 16 of the 17 Texas Democrats in the U.S. House, including Ken Bentsen of Houston, who finished third in the primary. Others on the list: three former Texas governors; the speaker of the Texas House; 12 of the Texas Senate's 15 Democrats; 47 of the 78 Democrats in the Texas House; and 36 Texas mayors, including the leaders of Houston, Fort Worth, and Austin.

Mr. Morales' Web site lists no endorsements.

Some good news for Mr. Morales: The Dallas Democratic Forum March 28 staged a debate for the two contenders. Now the bad news: No television stations carried the hourlong discussion live.

"Of course, that helps Kirk, right?" Mr. Morales said last week when reached at Kemp High School, where he teaches five world geography classes. Mr. Kirk, who raised and spent $1.6 million before the primary, raised an additional $935,000 through March 20.

Mr. Morales, who has a total of two (volunteer) campaign staffers and spent less than $10,000 before the primary, said that between teaching and campaigning, he has had little time to raise money since March 12.

—Ben Wear

Vol. 21, Issue 29, Page 30

Published in Print: April 3, 2002, as Federal File

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