WorldPeace: the fringe? candidate who spent $600,000

All the major papers in Texas reported the campaign finance reports that were filed yesterday. However, only Laylan Copelin of the Austin American Statesman reported the fact that WorldPeace had spent over $600,000 in 2001. Only Mr. Copelin and Mr. Selby actually called WorldPeace.

The other reporters (W. Gardner Selby and Bob Richter Express-News Austin Bureau ; JOHN MORITZ Star-Telegram Austin Bureau ; WAYNE SLATER / The Dallas Morning News ; CLAY ROBISON Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau) only reported the money that was collected by the candidates as if that means anything by itself.

Who cares what Tony Sanchez collected if he is going to spend $30 million of his own money? Sanchez did collect $1.6 million from over 800 contributers that could have gone to the other candidates. The brain trust, made up of the Democratic Party bosses, idea of running Tony was that he would a) energize the Hispanic vote (which he didn't. Victor Morales did) and b) he would spend his own money.

With all due respect to Mr. Copelin, I am not a fringe candidate and the Austin Stateman knows it. The word fringe is new. Up until now, I have been the token candidate with most of the press.

(Consider the following definition of WorldPeace as a token (fringe) candidate: 20 million phone calls between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2001 at three cents each for a cost of $600,000. In the September Scripps Howard poll, the token candidate WorldPeace was registering 17% to Perry's 53%. After the poll, the other white candidate, Marty Akins, dropped out of the governors race and those votes did not go to Sanchez. The December Scripps Howard poll ignored the token candidate WorldPeace even though he was reported in the May and September polls. In December, Sanchez was 18% to Perry's 48%. This was a 5% drop for both Perry and Sanchez in three months. Also the total percent of Hispanics committed to Perry and Sanchez went from 78% in September to 56% in December, a drop of 22%. The truth is that WorldPeace was two to one ahead of Sanchez and head to head with Perry. That is why the December poll did not report WorldPeace. The official story from Scripps Howard is that they run four polls a year and when they ran their September poll, most of the questions were related to 911 and there was little interest in politics. Therefore they did not include WorldPeace in the questions. By the way the Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram are a member of Scripps Howard and they had input as to the questions to be asked. No doubt they voted not to include WorldPeace.)

The press is ignoring the fact that $600,000 had placed WorldPeace equal to Sanchez in the polls as far back as September. WorldPeace is not the token candidate or the fringe candidate. WorldPeace is THE candidate.

I think the following quote in Mr. Copelin's article says it all: "Jim Moore, Morales' spokesman, said the Morales camp has ample money for a short campaign. He said the campaign will be airing its first TV commercial next week in selected markets. Moore also dismissed the Sanchez campaign which he left last year as a rich man's venture with shallow support." 

I tell people that I am running for governor of Texas and that Sanchez and Morales are running for governor of South Texas.

In closing, I would like to point out that when I win the primary with minimal financial support, I will go into office with no baggage; I will owe no one. It may well be that I won't even owe the Democratic Party. It may be that WorldPeace is bigger than the Democratic Party. 

In Texas we: "You dance with those who brung ya!" And I say: "If you come to the dance alone, you can dance with whoever you want."

John WorldPeace
The next governor of Texas

January 16, 2002

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Money gap between Sanchez, Morales confirmed by early campaign filings
By Laylan Copelin

American-Statesman Staff

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Tony Sanchez reached no further than his pocket for most of his campaign millions, while fringe candidate John WorldPeace outspent former Attorney General Dan Morales, according to campaign reports filed Tuesday.

Sanchez, a Laredo banker, gave his campaign $2.8 million in loans or personal contributions. One-third of the $1.65 million he raised from others came from 10 donors, including $100,000 from his mother and $25,000 from the president of his bank. The largest contributor outside the Sanchez circle was the Gallagher law firm in Houston, which gave $200,000.

Morales, who joined the gubernatorial race late, reported raising no money and spending about $169,000.

Tuesday's reports cover the past six months through Dec. 31, two days before Morales stunned the political establishment by challenging Sanchez instead of running for U.S. Senate as he had indicated.

WorldPeace, a Houston lawyer, spent about $600,000 of his own money in the past year on an estimated 20 million automatic phone calls to Texas households. At the other extreme in the gubernatorial race, Waxahachie businessman Bill Lyon spent $3,750 and raised $1 from his mother.

"It's symbolic, but it's heartwarming," Lyon said. "She wanted to be the first." 

Waiting in the wings for the Democrats to pick their nominee March 12 is Gov. Rick Perry, the lone Republican in the race. He reported raising $4.3 million the past six months and spending almost $1.2 million. He has $13.2 million cash on hand, half of it raised this year.

The campaign reports underscore the challenge Morales faces. According to Austin American-Statesman estimates, he has roughly a half-million dollars to unseat Sanchez, a candidate that many Democratic leaders anointed as the deep-pocketed hopeful who could lead the ticket against Republicans. Sanchez's personal wealth has been estimated in the hundreds of millions, and he is expected to spend up to $30 million on the campaign.

Morales will not confirm his meager war chest, and state law doesn't require him to disclose it. But in 1998 he told reporters he was leaving office with a $1.2 million campaign surplus, and he has reported spending more than $600,000 of it since then, particularly on lawyers to defend accusations that he abused his role as attorney general in the state's $17 billion victory against the tobacco industry. 

Jim Moore, Morales' spokesman, said the Morales camp has ample money for a short campaign. He said the campaign will be airing its first TV commercial next week in selected markets. Moore also dismissed the Sanchez campaign which he left last year as a rich man's venture with shallow support.

Michelle Kucera, the Sanchez spokeswoman, said her boss would have raised more money but he only started in September: "Tony is a first-time candidate and he's on par with other Democratic candidates."

Sanchez's report lists 850 donors and an average contribution of $1,940 for the $1.65 million he raised. By comparison, John Sharp, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor with lengthy experience in politics, raised $1.9 million from 2,034 individuals and an average contribution of $904.

Robert Stein, dean of social sciences at Rice University, said he is not surprised by the size of Sanchez's circle of supporters: "Sanchez expected to shave the face of his chief donor every morning." 

Richard Murray, a University of Houston political professor, said he expects Morales to start with a lead in the race, but said Morales is vulnerable with little money to counter Sanchez's personal wealth.

"Tony Sanchez will mount a large campaign with paid media," Murray predicted. "If there is no response from Morales, it will erode his lead quickly."

Murray said it will get tougher for Morales to continue getting headlines to offset Sanchez's TV campaign as Morales' announcement surprise wears off.

Jerry Polinard, a political science professor at the University of Texas-Pan American, agrees.

"Morales can raise all the questions he wants and demand all the debates he wants," Polinard said. "But he has to hope Sanchez will make a mistake."

Stein and Murray said other news will compete for the attention of readers and viewers.

"The Enron story has swamped the (Morales-Sanchez) story in Houston," Murray said.

Sanchez is not the only wealthy candidate on the 2002 ballot.

In the lieutenant governor's race, Land Commissioner David Dewhurst loaned his campaign $2 million and gave another $347,837. He collected more than half a million dollars from others. His lone Republican opponent, Galveston businessman Tom Kelly, reported raising no money.

Dewhurst, who made a fortune in the energy industry before becoming state land commissioner, has financed his previous campaigns. His biggest contributor was Dallas investor and developer Albert Huddleston, who gave $75,000.

Sharp's biggest contributors included Texas Rangers owner Thomas Hicks, the Texas Medical Association PAC, Odessa businessman Ted Roden, Texarkana businessman Truman Arnold and the Houston law firm of Williams Balley. Each gave $25,000.

Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander, a Republican, raised $1 million the past six months, pushing her re-election total to $5.1 million, already eclipsing what she spent to win in 1998. Her Democratic opponent, Marty Akins, raised about $100,000 but loaned his campaign $2.6 million. Akins' spokesman, Bob Mann, said the campaign stopped raising money after the Sept. 11 tragedy and is only now starting up again.

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Greg Abbott, unopposed in the Republican primary for attorney general, reported raising $1.1 million since July 2001, bringing to $1.9 million the total he has raised for this campaign.

Abbott's single biggest contributor, at $50,000, was Jim Leininger, a wealthy San Antonio businessman known for contributing to conservative candidates and causes. Abbott also reported two $25,000 contributions, from William Boothe and Kenny Troutt, both of Dallas.

Former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, unopposed in the Democratic primary for attorney general, reported raising $1.8 million in contributions and about $361,000 in pledges for a total of about $2.2 million.

Watson's three biggest contributors included two former Dell Computer Corp. executives, who each gave a total of $50,000: Tom Meredith and Mort Topfer, both of Austin.

Of his $4.3 million, Perry raised $100,000 each from Huddleston, the Dallas developer; Alice Walton, daughter of the Wal-Mart founder; and Troutt, founder of Excel Communications, a long-distance phone company. A Perry contributor from Austin who gave a larger contribution was Michael Vollman, former vice president at Vignette. He contributed $50,000.

You may contact Laylan Copelin at lcopelin@statesman.com or (512) 445-3617. Staff writers Kelly Daniel, Ken Herman and Bruce Hight contributed to this report. 

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For the campaign finance articles from the other major state newspapers go to John WorldPeace.