Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff refuses political prostitution
There is something wrong when the highest political offices in Texas are sold to the highest bidders. Mr. Ratliff recognized that in order to accumulate the money necessary to win the Lt. Governor's race, it would require him to prostitute himself to the will of the big money interests in the state. We have to admire a man that refuses to sell out his morality in order to achieve high office. The sad thing is that we need politicians like Mr. Ratliff who are more interested in the needs of all the people as opposed to the demands of the few who have control of great wealth.
There is little question but that the game of politics is controlled by those who can contact the most people. And as things stand right now, it takes millions of dollars to run political ads in the media to reach out to the people. Gone are the days of attending town meetings and grass roots political functions. Today you have to spend the money to reach a hundred thousand people in thirty seconds. That costs about $7,000; those thirty seconds.
Newspapers, television and radio are the keys to success in the political arena. And what is even more interesting is that these newspapers and television and radio stations have to skew their reporting of the news to support their advertisers. A television station which gets $2 million in advertising dollars from a candidate and nothing from that candidate's opponent is not going to run negative news about those whose are responsible for the financial success of the station.
So we now have the best politicians that money can buy and in the mean time; people go hungry, medical care continues to deteriorate, the educational system can't teach, the environment is sold off to big business, the air is polluted by industry, and the powerful continue to victimize the poor in the pursuit of more wealth and power.
In the meantime, the bright lights, the points of light in the political system are dimmed and turned off. Goodbye Bill, I'll miss you.
June 5, 2001
Ratliff withdraws from lieutenant governor race
By Laylan Copelin
Tuesday, June 5, 2001
Just 10 days after announcing his statewide campaign, Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff stunned a Capitol audience today by withdrawing his nascent candidacy for the state's most powerful legislative position.
Ratliff, an East Texas senator selected in December by his fellow senators as an interim lieutenant governor, said he thought he was prepared for his first statewide race to keep the job. But the Mount Pleasant engineer, known as a straight shooter who preferred the details of appropriations or education policy to campaigning, began to doubt he had the political appetite for campaigning statewide.
The senate veteran said he announced for election in the euphoria of leading the senate through a successful session, but in "the sober calm of East Texas" he changed his mind. He made his decision to withdraw Monday afternoon with his wife Sally.
"We realized that Bill Ratliff never can be repackaged to meet the demands of today's sound-bite campaign environment," Ratliff said. "Nor do we want to be."
A crowd of legislative staffers and political observers crowded into the Lt. Governor's Reception Room as word of Ratliff's decision spread Tuesday morning.
"It's a shocker," said Tony Proffitt, a political consultant. "Ostensibly an incumbent lieutenant governor, probably a leader in the Republican party primary, stepping down. We haven't seen this on the scene — ever."
His withdrawal prompted Sen. David Sibley, R-Waco, and Texas Supreme Court Justice Greg Abbott to begin weighing a run against Land Commissioner David Dewhurst, who had been considered Ratliff's only opponent in the Republican primary.
"I think that pretty much sucks up all the money in the state," said Mark Borskey, a GOP legislative aide, said of the crowded Republican field.
Raising the millions of dollars necessary to defeat Dewhurst, whose personal fortune of an estimated half-billion dollars gives him an advantage, weighed heavily in Ratliff's decision. Ratliff believed he could raise the money necessary but said raising money for a statewide campaign required compromises not necessary in the dozen years he served in the state Senate.
"If you are going to raise $10 million, that requires a level of politics that I'm just not comfortable with," he said. "I don't think that you can be as independent, as fiercely independent as I've been for 12 years, and be successful in a race like this."
Ratliff has often been quoted that he is Republican for the same reason he is a Methodist — he agrees with them 51 percent of the time.
The white-haired, mild-mannered East Texan became lieutenant governor in a historic manner. Senators elected him by secret ballot after Gov. George W. Bush was elected president, which set off a chain reaction of succession at the state Capitol.
Even then, Ratliff decried the behind-the-scenes campaigning between his 30 colleagues as potentially divisive. While others openly courted votes, Ratliff offered himself as a leader who could be fair to both Democrats and Republicans without advancing a personal agenda.