If rumors swirling around Austin are accurate, Texans’ mailboxes and radios could one again be inundated with messages from a man increasingly desperate to hold elected office.
Roughly a year after running a multimillion dollar campaign for Railroad Commissioner—and losing to conservative Wayne Christian—Houston-area slumlord Gary Gates is rumored to be preparing to get back in the saddle and launch a primary campaign against Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.
If the rumors are accurate, it means that Miller has little to fear and that Gates’ political consultants are going to use him to get even richer. In a sense, these consultants have found a golden goose – convincing the millionaire Gates that his path to victory in each of his seven failed campaign lies through heavy direct mail and media buys.
In his run for Railroad Commissioner, Gates’ consultants enticed him into spending millions of dollars on absurd projects, including blanket-sized mailers and a series of cryptic mail pieces that, when placed together, revealed a “secret message” saying “We Must Stop Hillary.” But while Gates’ spending spree was effective at generating laughs and making his consultants rich, the tactics didn’t help him at the ballot box.
After the dust settled, Gates had outspent Christian more than 10:1, yet he still lost, going almost $5 million into debt to himself in the process.
His consultants are sure to have another scheme this time – they’ve already suckered him into creating the astroturf “Texas Citizens Coalition” and into sending statewide mail in support of House Speaker Joe Straus and his top lieutenants. Gates has admitted those mailers were sent out so that House committee chairmen would answer his phone calls.
One wonders if the consultants will convince Gates that the path to victory in the agriculture commissioner race lies through a mass mailing of “Lil’ Orphan Gary Decoder Rings” that, when used in conjunction with a radio ad, reveal a message that says “Be Sure to Eat Texas Beef!”
If Gates were the wiser he’d take his record-setting seven straight losses and call it a day instead of trying for eight. Then again, his penchant for throwing good money after bad likely means Gates will enter yet another vanity campaign.
If history is a guide, Gates will end up light a couple million dollars, his consultants will be considerably richer, and Texans will be left with nothing but some crummy commercials.