Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Learning Politics Democratic Texas Teacher Hits Road, Takes Senate Primary Vote to Runoff

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Learning Politics Democratic Texas Teacher Hits Road, Takes Senate Primary Vote to Runoff

Article excerpt

High school government teacher Victor Morales started his improbable Senate campaign by asking his wife if he could use $8,000 of their savings to try for Sen. Phil Gramm's seat.

"I don't hunt and fish. I don't spend a lot of money on golf. I don't g o anywhere except with my family," Morales explained Wednesday. "So I said, `Dani, this time I'm taking. I'm taking big time, but it's really important.' "

She agreed.

So Morales took a leave of absence from his teaching job in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, said goodbye to his wife and their two children and hit the road in his 1992 Nissan pickup.

Sixty thousand miles later, he became the top vote-getter in last week's Democratic primary, outpolling two congressmen who gave up their seats to run for Senate. Morales will face Rep. John Bryant of Dallas in an April 9 runoff.

Morales got 36 percent to 30 percent for Bryant. Rep. Jim Chapman had 27 percent, and Houston lawyer John Odam trailed with 7 percent.

Morales, the 46-year-old grandson of Mexican immigrants, entered the race after becoming angry about Gramm's equating affirmative action with quotas.

His main political asset on Tuesday appeared to be his last name, which he shares with state Attorney General Dan Morales.

But political consultants cited other reasons as well for his success.

"Texans have no use for their congressmen, basically," said Austin consultant Mark Sanders. "What do you run on? `I was a good congressman'? I was part of the mess in Washington, D. …

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