Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Hightower of Texas Enters the Fray"

Al Giordano (The Field):

When, earlier this month, former Oklahoma Senator Fred Harris showed up at an Obama campaign event in New Mexico, I thought, “can Jim Hightower be far behind?”

Hightower, 65, populist, progressive, twice elected to statewide office in Texas, was Harris’ alter-ego and young (33, back then) campaign manager in that 1976 presidential campaign. The Nation reports that he’s putting his boots on for Obama to campaign in the March 4 primary and caucuses in the Lone Star state:

The Austin-based populist will be campaigning in Texas for Barack Obama. And it will mean something, since Hightower has not forgotten what he learned about the political landscape by winning two statewide elections in the 1980s and serving as an essential player on more than a few campaigns since then…

Hightower thinks Obama can compete in Texas by building a coalition that looks a little like the “rainbow” of old — and a lot like the coalitions that just gave the senator big wins in Maryland and Virginia. The Obama campaign is listening. Indeed, the candidate has started slipping references to the state into his campaign speeches. Obama plans to play in Texas, as he will do so with Hightower at his side.

This is a bit of a homecoming for Hightower, as the Wikipedia page about him suggests: a Democratic Party superdelegate in 1992 who supported Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, then when he dropped out former California Governor Jerry Brown, and then voted, when no one else was left, for Bill Clinton at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. He was one of the first Clinton supporters to grow openly disillusioned with the Clinton White House, and in 2000 broke party ranks to support Ralph Nader’s Independent presidential bid. In 2004 he supported US Rep. Dennis Kucinich for president, and then John Kerry in the general election.

His “Hightower Radio” commentaries appear on 130 stations nationwide, and his syndicated column in 75 newspapers, but the former editor of the Texas Observer has never been one to sit out there in the middle of the road, where, he’s fond pointing out, there are only “yellow stripes and dead amadillos.”



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