Tony Sanchez: the self financing beggar
It's hard to tell what Ken Herman was trying to say today in his article
on Tony Sanchez (see below). It was only mildly negative. It was a
"punch and cookie" kind of article because all it really talked about
was Sanchez the campaigner.
Still, no one is willing to take on Sanchez on the issues: Drug using,
hiring Mexican Nationals, laundering Mafia money, being a Republican,
draft dodger, Cuellar "death threat" letter, Cuellar the homosexual,
being 5' 4" tall.
If I remember correctly, the two prong argument for Tony Sanchez running
for governor was 1) He is Hispanic and 2) He woud self finance.
1) The most recent Scripps Howard poll again revealed that Hispanics are
not going to vote for Sanchez just because he is Hispanic. Perry has
got a pretty good chunk of the Hispanic voters in his camp.
2) According to Ken, the $2 billion man is out there sucking up
Democratic contributions in a big way; money that should be going to the
other candidates. Am I really the only Jackass to ask why a self
financing billionaire is stealing contributions from the other
Democratic candidates? I knew Tony was an elephant but I see now that
he is really a hoggish kind of elephant.
Not only has little Tony refused to contribute to or campaign for the
other Democrats, now he's sucking up all the rest of the limited
Democratic contributions. This makes be sick to my stomach. And the
Party leadership blindly continues to follow this greedy hog. It's
really so sickening that it is laughable.
"Little Tony, the Pied Piper, tells all the rats that he is going to
lead them to victory and spend $ 30 million to promote the rats. But as
he plays his stupid little tune and as the rats follow along toward the
cliff at the edge of town, he asks all the rats to give him their
money. And the rats are so mesmerized that they reach in their pockets
and give little Tony their money and then jump off the cliff to oblivion
with smiles on their faces. And when all the rats are dead, little
Tony calls up little George and they laugh and laugh and laugh and
Let's see, Ken used the phrase "work in progress" about four times.
Tony is a work in progress. Well in my opinion, Tony should have been
working for the last 12 months on himself.
Also, I see that Tony thinks he can win with just slick media ads in the
last months before the primary. Glad handing and baby kissing alone may
not win the election, but media alone will not do it either; especially
when WorldPeace uses his telephone dialers to point out that the camera
angles are carefully calculated so as not to reveal that Tony is only
The reality is that in a debate with Rick Perry, if Tony stands right
next to Rick, the election is over. No one has to say a word. That
visual will end the race. Everything in Texas is known world wide to be
"BIG". It's a cold hard political world; and when you call the
secretary of state a homosexual you had better be ready to deal with
what comes back through the door of personal attacks that you have
opened. The political cartoonists will be in hog heaven and Texas will
become the butt of jokes world wide if Tony becomes governor.
Texans can deal with corruption and with being the execution capital of
the world. But Texans can't deal with their BIG image being
The next governor of Texas
December 10, 2001
Sanchez's campaign style puts off some Democrats
By Ken Herman
Monday, December 10, 2001
BASTROP -- On this chilly night, rookie politician Tony Sanchez had good
reason -- a freeze warning that could jeopardize his flight home to
Laredo -- to duck out a bit early from an event set up to make friends
and money for his gubernatorial campaign.
But a growing buzz about Sanchez's political skills raises questions
about whether the Democratic contender is often too eager to leave
campaign events and whether he is ready for the leap from boardroom to
The concerns, just three months after Sanchez formally announced his
candidacy, come from Democrats who want him to win but worry about what
they've seen so far.
Down front at the Bastrop Opera House, as 75 people waited for Sanchez
to arrive, a longtime Democratic player said he is on board with the
candidate but unsettled by what he has seen at three events featuring
"He doesn't seem to really take a high degree of interest in meeting and
greeting, seems to be uncomfortable with that," said the Democrat, who
did not want to risk the relationships he has built during 25 years of
party activism by publicly questioning Sanchez's talents. "He tends to
want to leave fund-raisers and people events early."
Sanchez insists he is working hard, doing everything a candidate should
be doing on all fronts.
"I've been traveling for the last week," he said when he arrived back at
his ranch Friday evening, armed with a higher education briefing book.
"And I'm really getting into it. I'm getting a lot of energy from the
But he acknowledged that some people in those crowds may be seeing
something different from what they might expect.
"I'm not a professional politician. I don't feel comfortable going in
and glad-handing and back-slapping when it is not sincere," Sanchez
Austin political consultant George Shipley, a top Sanchez backer,
dismisses the doubters.
"The election is a year off. We are not yet even in preseason warm-ups,"
he said. "I would say let's watch and learn."
Indeed, on this night in Bastrop, Sanchez, still in the formative stages
of a long campaign he hopes will end with the defeat of Republican Gov.
Rick Perry, showed personal warmth as he came in from the cold. He
smiled, schmoozed and, at one point, put his hands on his knees to get
to kid's-eye level with a supporter's young son.
On this night, Sanchez -- whose only announced opposition for the
Democratic nomination comes from Houston lawyer John WorldPeace and
Waxahachie businessman Bill Lyon -- politicked with the best of them.
But there is acknowledgement within his campaign that this is a work in
progress. Democrats hoping that Sanchez is the man to lead their revival
are watching closely as he tries to morph from rich businessman to
champion of the people.
Some candidates can pull it off. Others turn out to be Clayton Williams,
the Republican oilman whose 1990 campaign started out as a steamroller
but wound up steamrolled as he lost to Democrat Ann Richards.
Longtime political operative Bill Miller of Austin, who has worked with
Democrats and Republicans but no longer represents politicians of any
stripe, said it's hard to avoid the insider talk about Sanchez.
"The buzz is he is a candidate without the skill set that you normally
expect," Miller said. "He doesn't have a willingness to engage. He
doesn't have a passion for the issues, and he is not working very hard.
"This is not Republican buzz. This is Democratic buzz from people that
are disappointed," Miller said.
The buzz comes at a time when the gubernatorial campaign, which has yet
to produce any TV ads, is way below the radar for most voters. But early
polls show Sanchez has a long way to go.
A Scripps Howard Texas Poll, conducted Nov. 2-26 and released Saturday,
shows Perry with a huge lead -- 48 percent to 18 percent. The pollsters
contacted 1,000 adults at random, and the results carry a margin of
error of 3 percentage points.
In East Texas, businessman Jim Nickerson of Pittsburg, who hosted a
reception for Sanchez and other Democratic candidates, saw the fledgling
candidate up close and personal.
"I think Tony is a good candidate," said Nickerson, referring more to
Sanchez's niche as a "pro-business Democrat" than to his campaign
Nickerson chooses words carefully when discussing the latter.
"He is -- how can you say it? -- not a mess-around type guy. He is a
get-to-the-problem, solve-it and move-on guy," Nickerson said. "He is
from the world where he makes decisions every day. The political world
is a different world.
"It's not easy to step from one to the other. I believe he is a work in
progress, and he is getting better. He is learning about communicating
to crowds," he said. "He is not George W. Bush or Bill Clinton yet, but
he is getting better."
And Texas political history -- replete with successful candidates whose
campaign style was something this side of dynamic, including Lt. Govs.
Bill Hobby and Bob Bullock and Govs. Preston Smith and Dolph Briscoe --
shows you can win without sizzle.
The buzz about Sanchez's style is not news at his campaign headquarters
on Bee Cave Road, where aides have taken note that Sanchez can seem ill
at ease among crowds.
"What I've noticed is that sometimes when there is kind of an
overwhelming emotional response to his presence, he finds it a little
embarrassing and so new to him that he does put a little distance
between himself and the people there," said Glenn Smith, Sanchez's
campaign manager. "He kind of steps back and goes, `Wow, they're
clapping for me.' "
Sanchez added: "When I go into a crowd, I don't want to impose myself on
anybody. I'm there because I'm sincere."
At age 58, and several hundred million dollars into a successful
business career, there is a question about how much Sanchez can change
or be changed. And Smith is reluctant to try.
"It's more important that he be real, that his reactions be real, that
his presence be authentic in a crowd," said Smith, a former aide to Gov.
Ann Richards, as good a hand-to-hand politician as the state has seen.
"I absolutely think people will respond to the authentic Tony Sanchez
much better than an inauthentic, highly trained political persona.
"It would be a mistake to say, `Now Mr. Sanchez, it is time for you to
begin acting like a professional politician,' " Smith added.
Miller, who has helped many politicians polish their campaign-trail
skills, said Team Sanchez may have quite a project on its hands.
"The older the candidate, the greater the personal success they've had,
the harder it is for them to transform," he said.
Sanchez, who has undergone some media training, agrees.
"What they see is what they are going to get," he said of his style.
"They are going to get a person who is very serious about the problems
that concern them every day of their lives and who is going to do
something about it -- and who is going to get away from this
professional back-slapping, glad-handing politician. In either party,
The reality of modern statewide politics is this: Glad-handing is
important, but Texas is long past being a state where you can handshake
your way to victory. Television is what counts.
Through Sanchez's personal wealth and the money he will raise, his
campaign should be able to bombard the airwaves with the TV ads that can
become everything many voters know about a candidate.
The buzz among high-level Sanchez backers is "We are going to spend $30
million (on ads) and it doesn't really matter" whether Sanchez is a
successful meeter-and-greeter, Miller said. On stage, Sanchez's
appearances have developed a predictable, comfortable pace. He talks
about why he is running, with emphasis on his pursuit of better public
"I'm not going to bore you with a political speech at all," he said on
the Bastrop Opera House stage. "Usually on occasions like this I usually
have a stump speech, but I'm not going to use it. I'm going to talk to
you from my heart a little bit, and then I'm going to go grab a plate."
The throw-away-the-stump-speech approach is used so often that it has
become the stump speech. Sanchez also likes to talk about the advance
work he did before deciding to become a candidate.
In Waco last week, Sanchez said he prepared his family for the race by
creating a dramatization of what the campaign might be like.
He said he invited "some friends" from Austin to come to Laredo to say
the kinds of negative things that opponents might say about him.
"And it really, really bothered my wife a lot," he said, "because we are
a private family, and we've never been in public office, and it hurt her
a lot. She that evening cried a little bit."
But Sanchez also always tells crowds that Tani, his wife, was among the
first to sign on as an eager supporter.
Dialing for dollars
Off stage, in important things such as collecting campaign money,
Sanchez also is a work in progress. Privately, those who have seen him
operate say he is reluctant to make the fund-raising calls crucial to
"You have to remind him," said Smith, downplaying the problem. "You
never have to push him."
"There are times when both he and I and others will be distracted and
want to concentrate on something else when the time was originally
blocked out for fund raising and you wish he'd make the calls," he
added. "But it's really not even pronounced enough to sweat much."
The first measure of Sanchez's success in collecting cash will come Jan.
15, when the next campaign finance reports are due.
Smith won't talk numbers but said the campaign is on target for its
goals and had good success at recent high-roller events around the
state. Former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a longtime Sanchez friend, was among
the hosts of a Thursday night reception at Barnes' Austin home.
Barnes and wife Melanie were among 23 hosts who donated $10,000. Other
hosts included Richards, former U.S. Rep. Jake Pickle of Austin and
Austin ad man Roy Spence and his wife, Mary.
After the event, Sanchez joked about how Barnes -- who can work a
political room with the best of them -- put himself at center stage.
"(House) Speaker (Pete) Laney spoke for about five minutes. I spoke for
about 10 to12 minutes, and Barnes spoke for about four minutes, four
times," Sanchez said.
You may contact Ken Herman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 445-1718.