Texas gubernatorial election, 1998
|Elections in Texas|
The 1998 Texas gubernatorial election was held on November 3, 1998 to select the governor of the state of Texas. Incumbent George W. Bush ran for re-election and easily received the Republican Party nomination. The Democratic Party unanimously nominated Garry Mauro – the Commissioner of the General Land Office since 1983 – for Governor of Texas in 1998. Polls consistently showed that Bush had very high approval ratings and led Mauro in every poll by large margins. Bush won in a landslide, carrying 240 out of 254 counties and garnering 27% of the African American vote – which was the highest percentage for any Republican statewide candidate – and 40% of the Latino vote. Bush was inaugurated for a second term as Governor of Texas on January 19, 1999.
George W. Bush, the son of former President of the United States George H. W. Bush, won the Texas gubernatorial election in 1994 by a relatively small margin against incumbent Ann Richards. Upon taking office on January 17, 1995, Bush had a low approval rating of 37%. Early in his first term, Bush's approval rating increased significantly, reaching 70% by February 1996. In the spring of 1997, Bush signed into law significant property tax cuts. Additionally, Bush had followed through on his campaign promises in 1994, which were reforms to education, the juvenile justice system, and welfare. He also reduced business liability in lawsuits. As a result of these accomplishments, Bush entered the 1998 Texas gubernatorial election with a high approval rating of 76%.
The primary elections to determine the Republican and Democratic nominees for Governor of Texas were both held on March 10, 1998, with the winner of each requiring a majority vote.
|Democratic Party||Republican Party|
|Garry Mauro||492,419||100.00||George W. Bush||576,528||96.60|
|Source: Texas Almanac|
Garry Mauro, who served as the Commissioner of the General Land Office since 1983, entered the Democratic primary for Governor of Texas. With no other candidates, Mauro became the Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Texas by default and received 492,419 votes during the primary on March 10, 1998.
Incumbent Governor George W. Bush was challenged for the Republican nomination by R. C. Crawford. In the primary election held on March 10, 1998, Bush defeated Crawford in a landslide, with the candidates receiving 576,528 votes (96.9%) and 20,311 votes (3.4%), respectively. Winning a majority of the votes, Bush became the Republican nominee for Governor of Texas in 1998, avoiding a run-off election.
In addition to Democrat Garry Mauro and Republican George W. Bush, two other candidates advanced to the general election. Libertarian candidate Lester "Les" Turlington, Jr. unanimously received his party's nomination for Governor of Texas in 1998. Independent Susan Lee Solar would also qualify for write-in candidacy on the general election ballot.
Throughout the entire campaign, George W. Bush led in the polls by wide margins. After Garry Mauro declared his candidacy in November 1997, a Scripps Howard Texas Poll of 793 registered voters showed George W. Bush leading by 68%-16%, with 14% undecided. George Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said, "The philosophical differences between Gov. Bush and Garry Mauro are clear and stark. Gov. Bush is a conservative, as most Texans are, and Garry Mauro is a liberal." In mid-June 1998, a Scripps Howard Texas Poll was conducted with George W. Bush versus Garry Mauro. The poll showed 70% likely voters support Bush, 17% favored Mauro, 11% were undecided, and 2% would vote for neither. Bush's approval rating was also virtually unchanged polling at 75%. In response to the poll, government professor at the University of Texas in Austin said, "Gov. Bush looks to be unbeatable, but there's enough time for anything to happen. There is a slim chance for Mauro but still a real chance for him to reach voters with ad dollars and issue choices. It's just too early to call the November election in June."
On June 22, 1998, Mauro called Bush out of touch saying, "Governor Bush is out of touch with the concerns of ordinary citizens and in bed with the giant HMO's." This was because in 1995, Bush vetoed the Patient Protection Act, which would have forced state-regulated healthcare organizations to allow their customers to choose their own doctor. The Patient Protection Act would have also mandated that insurance companies to cover cancer treatment received at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Another Scripps Howard Texas Poll was conducted from August 12 to August 27, 1998. It indicated that 77% of likely voters support Bush, 20% favored Mauro, and 1% supported Libertarian candidate Lester Turlington Jr. About 10% were undecided and 2% didn't answer. Again, Bush's approval rating barely fell and was 74% of Texans remarked that he was doing a good to excellent job as governor. Allan Saxe, an assistant political science professor at the University of Texas said, "Now he's ahead [Bush] by an awfully huge margin. If Garry Mauro can close that to a 10 to 15 percent difference by election day, it will be a symbolic victory. But it will be hard to do – a 50-point difference is a big one." Among Hispanics, Bush led Mauro 51%-31%, down from 67%-20% in June.
George W. Bush and Garry Mauro met for the sole gubernatorial election debate in El Paso on October 16, 1998. Initially, Bush seemed rather nervous and defensive. Mauro attacked Bush for his position on teachers salaries and support for a nuclear waste dump in Sierra Blanca. However, Bush was well prepared and attacked Mauro's tax and spending proposals, describing them as "overambitious". The results of the debate would have little impact on the general election in November.
Lieutenant Governor of Texas Bob Bullock, a Democrat, supported George W. Bush's re-election bid in 1998. Bullock explained, "It didn't make good sense to try to remove a successful governor from office." Incumbent Governor George W. Bush defeated Garry Mauro in a landslide. Bush received 2,550,821 votes (68.24%) against Mauro's 1,165,592 votes (31.18%). Because the length of gubernatorial terms were switched to four years starting in 1974, Bush became the first Governor of Texas to win two consecutive four-year terms. Bush carried 240 out of 254 counties in Texas and received an impressive 27% of the African American vote and 40% of the Latino vote. Republican and Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture Rick Perry won the election for Lieutenant Governor of Texas against Democrat and Comptroller John Sharp by a narrow margin. Libertarian Lester Turlington, Jr. and independent Susan Lee Solar also appeared on the ballot, though they only received 20,711 votes (0.55%) and 954 votes (00.3%), respectively. In his victory speech, Bush congratulated his brother Jeb, who had just won the gubernatorial election in Florida. Also in his victory speech, George Bush described himself as a "compassionate conservative", believing it was possible to be fiscally conservative, yet still help the needy.
|Candidates - Nominating parties||Votes||%|
|George W. Bush - Republican Party||2,550,821||68.24|
|Garry Mauro - Democratic Party||1,165,592||31.18|
|Lester R. Turlington, Jr. - Libertarian Party||20,711||0.47|
|Susan Lee Solar - Write-in||954||0.03|
|Source: Texas Almanac|
Following his defeat, Garry Mauro was succeeded by David Dewhurst as the Commissioner of the General Land Office in early 1999. Mauro would later serve as the Texas State Chairman for various Democratic presidential candidates, including for Al Gore in 2000, Dick Gephardt in 2004, and Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008. However, Mauro himself never sought political office again. Eventually, he opened a private law practice in his hometown of Austin.
George W. Bush was inaugurated for his second term as Governor of Texas on January 19, 1999. With his brother sworn-in as Governor of Florida earlier that month, George and Jeb Bush became the first two brothers to simultaneously serve as governors since Nelson and Winthrop Rockefeller from 1967 to 1971. Five months later, in June 1999, Bush announced his candidacy for President of the United States in 2000. At the 2000 Republican National Convention, Bush was nominated for President of the United States and narrowly won the election against Al Gore. On December 21, 2000, less than 2 years into his second term, George W. Bush resigned as Governor of Texas and was succeeded by Rick Perry. 
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