The Electronic Election: Perspectives on the 1996 Campaign Communication

By Lynda Lee Kaid; Dianne G. Bystrom | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
9
David Versus Goliath: The '96 Senatorial Race Between Victor Morales and Phil Gramm

Cynthia S. Roper Abilene Christian University

Writing another chapter in his political fairy tale, high school civics teacher Victor Morales won a close runoff Tuesday for the Texas Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, a Cinderella showing for a low-budget neophyte who put 60, 000 miles on his Nissan pickup barnstorming the state. Morales' victory . . . sets up one of the most improbable David- and-Goliath showdowns of the 1996 political season.

( Katz, 1996b).

So began the U.S. Senate election campaign between incumbent Phil Gramm, "one of Washington's best-funded, hardest-nosed power brokers" ( Katz, 1996b), and newcomer challenger Victor Morales. Variously characterized throughout the campaign as "Don Quixote," ( Attlesey, 1996, p. A21), "every- man" ( Ratcliffe & Gonzelez, 1996), "Forrest Gump" ( Katz, 1996a), and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" ( Garcia & Gamboa, 1996), Morales compared "himself to the biblical David fighting the giant Goliath" ( Ratcliffe, 1996, p. 16A). Returning from a failed bid for the Republican nomination for president, Senator Gramm "expressed frustration at being branded the establishment candidate in . . . a classic David vs. Goliath contest" ( Attlesey & Camia, 1996, p. 1A).

From the beginning, the campaigning styles of the two candidates were as different as day and night. Whereas Gramm ran a typical media campaign spending $8.8 million to saturate the airwaves with televised political advertising, Morales traversed the state in his white pickup truck holding minipolitical rallies and spending only $900,000. Throughout the campaign, Morales

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