Texas Gov. Richards to Appoint Krueger to Replace Sen. Bentsen


Gov. Ann Richards today will name Texas Railroad Commissioner Robert Krueger to the Senate seat being vacated by Treasury Secretary-designate Lloyd Bentsen, sources said Monday.

Krueger, 57, a Democrat, represented Central and West Texas in the House of Representatives from 1974 to 1978. That year, he lost a bid to unseat the late U.S. Sen. John Tower by only 12,000 votes. Six years later, Krueger made a second attempt for a Senate seat but came in third in the Democratic primary. He was elected in 1990 to the state Railroad Commission, which oversees, in part, the oil and gas industry.

Richards, who spent weeks considering the appointment, has voiced doubts about Democrats’ ability to retain Bentsen’s Senate seat, one he has held since 1970.


If Krueger wants to hold on to the seat, he will have to run in a special election in the spring, and if he is elected, stand for reelection in 1994.

During the guessing game of recent days, Richard’s strategy has been to float the name of a possible candidate then test the reaction.

Some of the first names bandied about included former San Antonio Mayor Henry G. Cisneros and state Comptroller John Sharp. Cisneros was widely viewed as the Democrats’ leading candidate. But he made it known he was not eager for the bitter fight ahead to keep the Senate seat and accepted instead the Housing and Urban Development Department post in Clinton’s Cabinet. Sharp took himself out of consideration in the early going.

Texas Reps. Michael A. Andrews and Jim Chapman rose and then fell from contention. Andrews was hurt by his 121 overdrafts at the House bank and Chapman was hit on New Year’s Eve with a barrage of charges by civil rights leaders regarding his voting record.

Krueger, meanwhile, could point to his recent statewide election and strong support from the Latino community in South Texas.

“All the congressmen who have come up are known in their districts, but none has statewide recognition,” said one Democratic state representative. “Krueger has statewide name ID, and no one has strong objections to him.”

Krueger is expected to face stiff opposition in the special election. All Democratic and Republican candidates will run on one ballot, and if there is no majority winner, the top two vote getters will face each other in a runoff.

Among Democrats, former Atty. Gen. Jim Mattox, who lost to Richards in the bitter 1990 Democratic gubernatorial primary, has already said he will challenge the appointee. He also expressed disappointment that Richards never even talked to him about the appointment.

On the Republican side, Reps. Jack Fields and Joe L. Barton already have entered the race, and state Treasurer Kay Bailey Hutchison has formed an exploratory committee for the race.

The appointment will maintain the Democrats’ 57-43 edge over the Republicans in the Senate.

Martinez reported from Santa Ana, Calif., and Kennedy from Houston.