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Texas BlogWire

40/40: An Interview With Bob Gammage, Part II

by: Phillip Martin

Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 03:55 PM CST

This is the second part of our Gubernatorial series with candidates Chris Bell and Bob Gammage.  The following was produced from in person interviews with the candidate.

What separates you from Chris Bell? What makes you the better choice for Democrats?

Experience. Passion. I'm a messenger, and I know how to deliver that message. I know how to get out and appeal to people. I was not supposed to be elected in my first race. I was supposed to come in fifth in a five-way primary, I was outspent twenty-to-one. But I wore out two pair of shoes, two sets of tires, two transmissions, 150 kids who couldn't vote, and a silk-screen they used to make 10,000 signs in my driveway. All the pundits, all the conventional wisdom kept telling me I couldn't win. They said labor's endorsed this one, downtown boys have endorsed that one, and they're all going to outspend you.

They can't outwork me. They can't out-message me, and they can't out-people me. When I ran for the Senate two years later, basically the same thing. The district was drawn for my opponent, he outspent me five-to-one, but we outworked him, out-messaged him, out-peopled him, and we won. Same thing when I ran for Congress. Same thing on the Court of Appeals - I was outspent eight-to-one in twenty-four counties in Central Texas. The guy had all the endorsements from here to San Angelo. I got in, I outworked him, out-messaged him, out-peopled him, and we won. When we got to the Supreme Court, same thing. The other guy had the money and had all the endorsements, but we won. We can do it statewide in the Governor's race.

I never aspired to be Governor of Texas, but I did it because none of my other friends I wanted to run would do it, and they all thought it'd be great if I ran. The closest thing I got to for a negative was from a friend that asked me, "Why do you want to do that to yourself." The truth is I didn't want to do it to myself. There are a lot of other things I had planned for this time in my life, and this is not one of them. But it needs to be done. I've got seven grand-kids, six are in public schools, and they're being robbed of their birthright. We need to wake up those disillusioned Democrats, bring in those angry independents, and bring in some disaffected Republicans. Let's get those people, get them together - because they share our values.

Phillip Martin :: 40/40: An Interview With Bob Gammage, Part II
Are you proud of Texas?

I'm proud of Texas, but not it's current crop of leaders. I have orange blood. Red, white, and blue blood. My loyalty to Texas, my loyalty to my country and my patriotism run very deep and don't take second chair to no one. My great-great-grandfather served in the first Legislature that ever met in that Capitol building. My pride for Texas runs deep and it runs wide. I have dreams, I have aspirations for Texas. I have aspirations for my children and my grandchildren. I see things I spent twenty-five years of my life in public service being undermined, betrayed, and systematically dismantled over the last ten years. I'm not going to stand by and watch that happen.

How do you think politics have changed since your days with the Dirty Thirty?

The Dirty Thirty fought for representative Democracy and legislative integrity. We fought for the chance to make sure everyone had an opportunity to speak and that no special interest was valued higher than the people of Texas. When we got there, the lobbies were running rampant over the public interest and it was all authoritarian and dictatorial. It wasn't until the press began to understand what was going on that we started changing people's minds and waking everyone up to what was going on…

Texas is a conservative state, and that's just a reality. Now, define conservative. Conservative means you like it the way it is, basically, and you don't reach out and you don't innovate and you don't change. You deal with problems when they come up, but you don't blow things away. And that's OK. When you're dealing with the public's money, you should invest it very wisely. You shouldn't tax more than you need, and you shouldn't spend more than you need.

Being conservative means you should respect the other person's privacy and respect your neighbor. That's not liberal - that's conservative. That's as old as the Bill of Rights.

That's why I don't like those tags, because they don't mean anything. They're just words people use to stigmatize other people. I don't like ideologues of any stripe, because those are people that aren't willing to sit down with anyone and listen to any views but their own. You can't work with people like that. You can try, but rarely can you achieve anything.

There's a quote from the book, "What's the Matter With Kansas," by Thomas Frank, that I think is very interesting. It reads: "The more you screw the public over, the more they will clamor to cut your taxes. The more you cheat and steal, the angrier they will become - at the liberal media that expose your cheating and stealing." My question is this: how do you reach out to moderates and swing voters and talk about issues of corruption without driving them away?

You show them. You show them - just like the Dirty Thirty did - that, number one, there is a problem, and number two, it's not just their neighbor's problem. It's their problem. It's not the guy down the block or in the next county, it's their problem. It affects their lives. It affects their rent. It affects their utility bills. It affects their gas prices. It affects their groceries, their casualty insurance. The water they drink and the air that they breathe. It's their problem and they're the only ones that can do anything about it. That's the message we delivered all those many years ago, and that's the message we're going to deliver today.

I will say this: for all the incompetence and ineptness that they've demonstrated in addressing any of the substantive problems that affect this state, they have been extremely competent in one thing. And that's corrupting the system more in ten years than the Democrats could do in 100 years.

Well, a lot of those folks that are independents and are disaffected - and even some Democrats - want to vote for Strayhorn. How do you keep Democrats voting Democratic? How do you keep Democrats from voting for Strayhorn in the November election?

They don't realize she's just Rick Perry in a skirt?

I guess not.

She's pushed to cut teacher health care benefits. She's no friend of teachers. She's a right-wing Republican. She'll cut taxes for rich people. She'll cut benefits for people in need. She's not going to solve these problems, any more than Rick Perry is doing. She's obligated to the same folks - she's taken money from the same folks. She didn't say, "I'm an independent with human values." She stood up there and said, "I'm a Republican."

I was raised a southern Baptist, and I was raised to learn the lessons that Jesus taught about caring about your fellow human beings and leaving the world a little better than you found it. The only time that He was driven to anger and violence - to my knowledge - was when he chased the money-changers out of the temple. Now, Rick Perry has invited them into the Governor's mansion, and we need to run them out of there, too. There's nothing Christian about those folks. They don't understand the principle of Christianity. They understand ideology. They understand dogma. They understand hate and fear, but they don't understand love and compassion and caring about your neighbor.

I understand that and I don't necessarily disagree with you. But earlier, you were talking about respecting your neighbor and how a lot of Texans, though conservative, share human values of wanting to do right by their families and such. Yet, a lot of those people you're talking about think people like Rick Perry and George Bush are good people. How do you talk to them without offending them?

He's killing their children! I have a son who got back from Baghdad last month, in one piece thank God. Not all of his friends were so lucky. He's killing their children. He's invading countries that we're not at war with, and he's talking about doing some more now. I don't care if I offend them! I'm trying to wake them up; I'm not trying to please them! I hate having to say it, but somebody's got to wake them up and we're not going to win any elections by being Republican-lites.

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Bright Sunny Day (2.50 / 2)
Like a forecast for a bright sunny day for Texas. And possibly for the country. How anyone could not vote for this man is beyond me.

sunny (5.00 / 1)
Is anyone suprised that the first comment is Snooks?

[ Parent ]
Fast on my feet and on the keyboard (2.50 / 2)
I have friends in low places and hacked BOR and now have "auto-alert" for when something new is posted. Some like the last word. I like the first word and the last word. 

[ Parent ]
the last question (5.00 / 1)
I love Gammage's response to the last question, and how he doesn't care if he offends religious zealots, he's trying to wake them up.  That is amazing candor for a candidate, just simply amazing.

This interview is wonderful.  Great job


[ Parent ]
last word (0.00 / 0)

Endorsed by Christmas marshmallow peeps

[ Parent ]

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