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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Akins drops out of gubernatorial race

AUSTIN (AP) – Democrat Marty Akins dropped his campaign for governor Wednesday to run for state comptroller, all but clearing the way for Laredo businessman Tony Sanchez to challenge Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2002.
In a released statement, Akins said he dropped out of the governor’s race to avoid a ”rugged struggle” in the Democratic primary. Houston attorney John WorldPeace is the only other announced Democratic candidate for governor, but the multimillionaire Sanchez is considered the heavy favorite to win his party’s nomination.
Akins said he dropped out to avoid a bitter primary and saw no benefit to voters or the party ”to battle one another in a rugged struggle from which there might not emerge a Democratic winner at all come November 2002.”
”I believe this is the right time, now, to unify our Texas Democratic Party and for the Democratic candidates to come together as a team,” Akins said.
Akins said he called Sanchez on Wednesday to tell him. ”Mr. Akins will be a fine comptroller and an asset to the ticket,” Sanchez spokeswoman Michelle Kucera said.
Akins, a lawyer from Marble Falls, is a former All-American quarterback at the University of Texas. He is the first Democrat to announce a campaign to challenge Republican Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander next year.
The comptroller’s race now creates enemies out of former allies.
According to his 1998 application for a Texas Railroad Commission appointment, Akins listed among his political experiences being a Rylander campaign fund raiser and adviser.
Bob Mann, Akins’ communications consultant, said Akins liked Rylander personally but ”regrets” his previous political alliance.
”He took a look and got belly-up close to the Republican way of doing things and said ‘I’m a Democrat’,” Mann said.
Rylander has ”tremendous support” from Republicans and Democrats and about $3 million in cash on hand for her campaign, said spokesman Mark Sanders.
”That support is based on her achievements as comptroller. She looks forward to the campaign and looks forward to meeting with the people of Texas about what’s she’s done in office and what she’ll do in the next four years,” Sanders said.
Although Akins had about $2.6 million in campaign funds, many Democratic leaders believe Sanchez has the best chance to beat Perry and, as a high-profile Hispanic on the ticket, can increase turnout in that heavily Democratic voting bloc.
Although he had officially announced his campaign for governor much earlier than Sanchez, Akins was bedeviled by doubts over his claims regarding his relationship with former President Lyndon Johnson and whether he exaggerated his relationships with black teammates during his football career.
Austin political consultant Bill Miller said Akins’ move indicates a strategy by the Texas Democratic Party, which is currently shut out of all statewide offices. The party will want a field of candidates to challenge Republican incumbents in every office next year, Miller said.
”The fact that people are moving around and choosing some open races,” suggests a coordinated effort by party leadership, he said. ”That’s the smart thing to do, fill all the available races. Eliminate primary strife.”
Texas Democratic Party Chair Molly Beth Malcolm said Democrats ”are going to have a strong ticket from top to bottom in 2002.”
Party spokesman Mike Hailey said Akins was not asked to leave the governor’s race. ”This was Marty’s decision,” he said.

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