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March 14, 1996

You think it's expensive to run for office in 1996? It's always been that way, even before TV sucked up most of the big bucks. I recently came across a clipping from a turn of the century Perry newspaper that sheds a little light on a candidate's expenses 'way back then. Under the heading "Running for Office In Texas," here's what the article says:

"A defeated Texas Democrat published the following expense account which shows that Democrats even down in Texas don't have fair sailing.

"Lost four months, 33 days canvassing; 1,340 hours thinking about the election; five acres of cotton; 25 acres of corn; four sheep; four shoats and one beef to barbecue; two front teeth and considerable amount of hair in a personal skirmish.

"Gave 97 plugs of tobacco; seven Sunday school books; two pair of suspenders; two calico dresses, six dolls and 13 rattlers.

"Told 2,888 lies; shook hands 23,477 times; talked enough to have made in print 1,000 large volumes size of patent office reports; kissed 126 babies; kindled 15 kitchen fires; cut two cords of wood; picked 740 pounds of cotton; helped to pull seven wagon loads of corn; dug 15 bushels of potatoes; toted 28 buckets of water; put up eight stoves; was dog bit five times; watch broken by baby which cost $3 to have repaired.

"Loaned out eight barrels of flour, 20 bushels of meal, 151 pounds of bacon, 56 pounds of butter, 43 dozen eggs, three umbrellas, 13 lead pencils, one Bible dictionary, one mowing blade, three hoes, one overcoat, two boxes of paper collars, none of which have ever been returned.

"Called my opponent a perambulating liar -- doctor's bill $22; had five arguments with my wife -- results, one flower vase smashed, one broom handle broken, one dish of hash knocked off the table, one shirt bosom ruined, one handful of whiskers pulled out, ten cents' worth of sticking plaster bought. Besides spending $1,698."

Lucky for him this campaign occurred in that rather innocent age some 100 years ago. Today the candidate also would have to add considerably more for TV ads, not to mention something for a makeup artist and barber to repair the damage from the hair and whiskers being pulled out.