Bob Bullock: God Bless Texas

Bob Bullock: God Bless Texas

Bob Bullock: God Bless Texas

Bob Bullock: God Bless Texas

Synopsis

Renowned for his fierce devotion to the people of Texas- as well as his equally fierce rages and unpredictable temper- Bob Bullock was the most powerful political figure in Texas at the end of the twentieth century. First elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1956, Bullock held several key statewide posts before capturing the lieutenant governor's office in 1990. Though nominally the state's number two official, Bullock in fact became Texas's top power broker, wielding tremendous influence over the legislative agenda and state budget through the 1990s while also mentoring and supporting a future president- George W. Bush.

In this lively, yet thoroughly researched biography, award-winning journalists Dave McNeely and Jim Henderson craft a well-rounded portrait of Bob Bullock, underscoring both his political adroitness and his personal demons. They trace Bullock's rise through state government as Assistant Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Comptroller, and Lieutenant Governor, showing how he increased the power of every office he held. The authors spotlight Bullock's substantial achievements, which included hiring an unprecedented number of women and minorities, instituting a performance review to increase the efficiency of state agencies, restructuring the public school funding system, and creating the state's first water conservation and management plan.

Excerpt

Bob Bullock lived his life on the edge. Personally and professionally, he did what he thought was right at the time. Some thought his behavior—like a hand grenade with the pin out—was contrived, that his legendary blow-ups and temper tantrums were strategically planned. Perhaps sometimes they were, and he indeed could use his huge temper to frighten people into doing what he wanted, or just to keep them off balance. But Matthew Dowd, a political strategist involved in Bullock's races in 1990 and 1994 for lieutenant governor, thought he lived life “intuitively.” And indeed, his former son-in-law Steve Robinson, father of Bullock's only grandson, Grant, said Bullock lived his public and private life with abandon: “No borders, no fear.”

He was a fan of the late President Lyndon B. Johnson and became the legislative mentor for George W. Bush, a presidential son and Texas governor who would go on to also occupy the White House. Bullock didn't make Bush president, but he could have prevented it had he chosen to.

One of my earliest memories of Bullock, though I'm sure I must have met him sooner, since I started reporting on Texas politics in the mid-1960s, was at one of the early Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnics, in a field near Dripping Springs, west of Austin. The year was 1974. I had stopped off on my way from Dallas, where I was a political reporter for the Dallas Morning News, to South Texas, to work on some stories. I took a break with friends, and since I covered politics, some of them were involved in it. I had been invited to the gathering by Garry Mauro, an up-and-coming young campaign operative, who had driven Bullock around Texas the previous year when he was running for . . .

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