triple damages when they sue deceptive
firms. Last session, the Texas Consumers
Union gave Waters the highest rating of
any Harris County legislator for his pro-
Waters smells a rat in Gov. Clements
wire-tap proposal. "It will not solve drug-
related crimes, but will catch personal,
private conversations of innocent people,"
says Waters, whose support on ACLU-
related issues earned him a 100 percent
rating from the civil libertarians.
Waters has fought to prevent Texas
from becoming a site for nuclear waste
disposal. "We are just awakening to the
horrors of the unregulated political dangers of hazardous waste disposal . . . and
we must demand regulatory systems on
local, state and national levels."
Ron Waters is beginning to sound like
the Ralph Nader of Texas, an association
he is proud of. "Nader is one of my
heroes," says Waters, who was first elected to the state legislature at age 22 and
re-elected for four subsequent terms.
Ogg seems more like John Hill. Hill
was the defeated Democratic candidate
for governor in 1978 who tried to be all
things to all people, liberals and conservatives alike. His habit of "talking from
both sides of his mouth" opened the way
for Bill Clements, the first Republican
governor in Texas since reconstruction.
"I try to keep government in perspective and within its sphere of operation,"
Ogg says, adding that he tends to be fiscally conservative. He says he is a "pro-
growth person" as far as Houston development goes, although he admits the area
has developed too rapidly and advises
more "systematic, orderly planning." He
considers traffic "congestion and scarcity
of parks and recreation areas" Houston's
two most pressing problems.
Ogg says he "generally" opposes wiretapping, but did vote in the last session
for electronic surveillance "where nar
cotics or organized crime is involved.
Wiretapping per se is an infringement on
individual rights, but you have to balance
a person's individual rights with the overall rights of society," he says.
When asked if he favors capital punishment, Ogg replies, "I not only favor it, I
introduced the bill that reinstituted capital punishment and it has been upheld by
the Supreme Court of the United States.
I'm very proud that Texas was the first
state in which the laws were upheld.
Other states have since followed, but we
are the model."
The Senator seldom takes an unequivocal stance on any issue. A qualification,
a back-up, a "safeguard measure" seems
to accompany every statement.
As Barnstone, his old political rival,
puts it, "Jack Ogg can talk the wallpaper
off a wall. He will say absolutely anything."
For example, in a recent interview,
Ogg told Breakthrough, "I'm very proud
of what I've been able to accomplish during my years in the state legislature . . .
with other people's help, of course. I
think understanding the system, understanding the committee system, understanding what you do, understanding how
to carry legislation and get it through,
and how to work both sides—of the rotunda, that is—knowing that something
not only has to pass the Senate but has to
pass the House—I think all of those things
help in being effective. I think knowing
what to say about an issue, what not to
say, what amendments you will accept,
what amendments you will not accept,
whether to compromise an issue—all of
that strategy goes into making you
"I think if you look at the record
without any response to whether they
have been good bills or bad bills, that I
have authorized and passed more than
200 bills that have statewide effect, as
opposed to Ron's six bills. This says a
great deal about our effectiveness without
even talking about the quality of the bills.
And I do agree that just pure number has
nothing to do with quality. It depends on
what's in those bills."
About those bills.
Waters says the legislative process in
Austin is designed to prevent relatively
new state legislators from carrying a bill.
"A lot of bills I introduced became law,
but did not bear my name," he says in
his defense. "In the law which gave 18-
year-olds the right to vote, as well as in
marijuana decriminalization efforts, senior members put their names on the legislation."
He also expresses frustration in having
to co-sponsor legislation at times with
"reactionaries," like Clay Smothers (R—
Dallas). That's just "part of the process,"
he says, referring in this case to his efforts
to restore voting rights to ex-offenders.
Waters says his experience as "a progressive in a less than progressive legislature" would help him be an effective
senator. "It's easier to make coalitions in
the Senate. People have to come through
you to get a law passed since there are
fewer votes. You can't ignore a state
Oliver, his campaign manager, notes
that there are only 31 senators compared
to 150 house members, a fact which he
says allows "senators to carry five times
as many bills in the normal course of
He attcks Ogg's claim that he introduced more than 200 bills by saying "at
least 50 of them were pork-barrel bills
aiding water districts for big developers
One point the Waters campaign cannot
dispute is that on paper, Ogg looks good.
He was author of several important state
laws, including the Texas Voting Rights
Act, the Texas Clean Air Act and the
original ratification of the Equal Rights
Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1972.
Ogg charges Waters with having passed
no significant legislation, but Mary
Schlett, chair of the Harris County Democrats, remarks, "Most progressive legislators in Texas cannot come up with a long
list of bills they have authored or sponsored. Their main duty turns out to be to
stop bad legislation."
Barbs fly in the final weeks of the
Ogg likes to portray Waters as an extreme liberal and big spender, noting that
Waters' office budget in 1979 was only
$18,000 lower than his senate office expense, although the senate district serves
five times as many people.
A Waters aide says, "you can say
that if Ron has done nothing else, he has
introduced the district to its senator. This
is the first time some have ever seen him.
Usually he's in the board rooms."
Waters was known to have pointed to
an empty chair during forums at the
beginning of the campaign, saying, "Let
me introduce you to your senator for the
past eight years." (Now the chair at those
gatherings is no longer vacant.)
"The Kennedy—Carter race will help
us," claims Waters. "It'll stir up interest
in voting. With Kennedy on the ballot
here, the Carter people are working harder to turn out Democratic votes, and
those are our precincts!"
Oliver makes one last observation.
"Since the Republicans are having a real
race (a winner-take-all primary), Ogg will
have to stand up in his own party for
election this time," he says.
Calling Ogg a "closet Republican, one
who like Connally should have followed
his guts and switched parties," Oliver exudes confidence. "We see this election as
the end of the line for Jack Ogg."
Ron Waters gave up a comfortable House seat to run against State Senator Jack Ogg.