Jim Mattox

Jim Mattox

James Albon "Jim" Mattox (born August 29, 1943) is a Dallas lawyer and Texas Democratic politician who served three terms in the U.S. Congress and two terms as attorney general but lost high profile races for governor in 1990 and the U.S. Senate in 1994.

Congressional service, 1977-1983

A liberal Democrat, Mattox was elected to Congress from the Fifth Congressional District in 1976, 1978, and 1980. In his first election, he defeated the Republican Nancy Judy, 67,871 (54 percent) to 56,056 (44.6 percent). The incumbent Republican Alan Steelman of Dallas, was running unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate that year against Democrat Lloyd Bentsen.

In 1978 and 1980, Mattox had yet to secure a lock on his district and was hard pressed by Thomas W. "Tom" Pauken, a staunchly conservative Republican attorney from Dallas. In their first battle, Mattox drew 35,52 votes (50.3 percent) to Pauken's 34,672 (49.1 percent). In 1980, Mattox received 70,892 votes (51 percent) to Pauken's 67,848 (48.8 percent). Pauken then joined the transition team of President-elect Ronald W. Reagan.

Attorney General 1983-1991

In 1982, Mattox did not seek reelection to his redistricted House seat but was instead elected statewide to succeed the outgoing attorney general Mark White, who was elected governor. That was the last year in which Texas Democrats, swept all the statewide races on the ballot. Mattox easily defeated the Republican State Senator William "C. Bill" Meier of Euless in Tarrant County, a former Democrat, who holds the filibuster record -- 43 hours -- in the Texas Senate.

In 1983, Mattox was indicted for "commercial bribery" and prosecuted by noted District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who later achieved prominence through his prosecution of Republican congressional leader Tom Delay. Like the Delay prosecution, the political background of the Mattox prosecution related to an attempt to conceal the delivery of corporate funds to an electoral campaign. Mattox had received a campaign contribution of $125,000 from his sister Janice, a Dallas lawyer. Janice in turn had obtained a similar amount from Seafirst bank in Seattle, which had close ties to Mattox supporter Clinton Manges, a controversial South Texas rancher-oilman who was the successor to the corrupt "Duke" of Duval County, George Parr. Manges was co-plaintiff with the state (represented by Mattox) in major litigation against Mobil Oil Co. Mobil had attempted to depose Janice Mattox concerning the Seafirst transaction, which led Mattox to threaten Mobil's law firm Fulbright & Jaworski with loss of its tax-exempt bond practice, which required regular Attorney General bond-issue approvals. Secretly recorded by the recipient of the threats, Mattox did not deny threatening the law firm, nor did he deny the Seafirst transactions, his defense being based on the legal definition of the crime of "commercial bribery." After a long trial, Mattox was acquitted.

In 1986, Mattox was narrowly reelected attorney general; he beat back an unusually strong Republican opponent in San Antonio lawyer Roy Barrera, Jr. In that election, many Hispanic voters supported the Democrat Mattox, rather than the Republican Barrera. As attorney general, Mattox highlighted the state's accelerated efforts to help mothers collect child support from divorced or unwed fathers. His aggressive attacks on alleged wrongdoing by corporations gained him considerable popular support.

Challenging Ann Richards, 1990

In 1990, Mattox sought the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. He alleged that his principal opponent, State Treasurer Ann Richards, had used cocaine and was a recovering alcoholic who might falter in handling the strains associated with being governor. The undocumented and apparently false cocaine charge against the popular Richards damaged his political appeal to many Democrats. Mattox went into a runoff with Richards because the third contender, former Governor Mark White polled enough votes to keep either Mattox or Richards from winning the majority. Richards went on to win the nomination and the election, very narrowly, over Republican Clayton Williams.

Failed comeback attempts, 1994 and 1998

In 1994, Mattox ran for the U.S. Senate in a campaign marked by Mattox's usual aggressive negative campaigning, but he eventually lost the Democratic nomination to Richard W. Fisher, who had been a Ross Perot operative in the 1992 presidential election. Fisher was also the son-in-law of former Third District Republican Congressman James M. Collins of another Dallas district than the one previously represented by Mattox. Collins lost the 1982 senatorial general election to Lloyd M. Bentsen. Fisher was, however, defeated in the November 1994 general election by the freshman Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

In 1998, Mattox tried to return to the attorney general's position but lost the general election to Republican John Cornyn. Cornyn polled 2,002,794 votes (54.25 percent), and Maddox received 1,631,045 ballots (44.18 percent). (A third candidate received 1.56 percent.) Cornyn had defeated two other candidates for the Republican nomination as attorney general, including Mattox's old rival Thomas Pauken. Cornyn hence became the first Republican ever elected as attorney general of Texas. Four years later, Cornyn vacated that office to become one of Texas' two U.S. senators. It became apparent that Mattox had acquired substantial negative political baggage from his association with Manges and other questionable business connectionis and from his aggressive political tactics, particularly his cocaine-use claims against the popular former Democratic Governor, Ann Richards.

In 2001, Mattox signaled to Democratic Party leaders that he was available to run for governor once again in 2002. He never entered the race, and the nomination went to Tony Sanchez of Laredo, Texas, who lost to incumbent Rick Perry.


http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/vol17/issue26/pols.AGrace.htmlhttp://elections.sos.state.tx.us/elchist.exehttp://www.burntorangereport.com/archives/000526.htmlhttp://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/vol18/issue09/pols.attgeneral.htmlhttp://www.sanderhicks.com/reagan.htmlhttp://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/f/finances/index.html?query=MATTOX,%20JAMES&field=per&match=exacthttp://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2519/is_n6_v15?pnum=9&opg=15543265http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/DD/hcd11.htmlhttp://books.google.com/books?id=xGLIOvYDIssC&pg=PA305&lpg=PA305&dq=%22clinton+manges%22+south+texas+rancher&source =web&ots=FrUIMYO5z0&sig=cby8LwDCnPadeUP9b7pkLjgjp1A#PPR4,M1"Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections", U.S. House


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