We hardly knew ye
The Irrelevant Party, formerly known as the Texas Democratic Party, held a series of wakes around Austin on election night. The Republicans, on the other hand, gathered all their statewide candidates together for a single huge election-night celebration at the Austin Convention Center. (Buzz will refrain from calling it a cocktail party, although some Republican women wore glittery evening gowns and dangly diamond earrings as if they were going out to see Cats--again.)

Irrelevant Party candidates could not all be in one place because some of them don't like each other very much, which goes a long way toward explaining why Dems are generally so much more entertaining than Republicans. Texas Democrats resemble a loud, dysfunctional family. Gather them together for a family wake, get a few drinks under their belts, and pretty soon the bitter recriminations and potato salad start flying.

Still, it would have been great fun to see gubernatorial sacrificial lamb Garry Mauro in the same room with lieutenant governor washout John "I'm a Democrat Only When It's Politically Expedient" Sharp on election night. Imagine Mauro knocking down a few (after his race was called at 7:01 p.m.) and hollering for Sharp, who did not endorse Mauro, to come out of hiding and face the music like a real man.

Instead, Sharp waited until well past midnight to emerge with his family from his high-rise hotel room and address his (by then) well-lubricated supporters inside a banquet room downstairs.

Some of the people who waited patiently for Sharp's arrival were members of his comptroller office staff, who also sweated out the comptroller's race between Democrat Paul Hobby and Democrat-turned-Republican Carole Keeton Rylander, a woman at least one bitter attendee dubbed Boss Hogg. Rylander's win made the night a total dud for these folks, as Rylander likely will clean house, forcing the former Sharp staffers into the mean streets, where they will slave away in consulting jobs that pay six figures.

Large cheers went up in the room on several occasions before Sharp finally appeared. Boxer beats Fong in California! Yippee! Schumer sinks D'Amato in New York! Hooray! Demos win governorships in Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia! Whoopee! We are going to lose every single statewide executive and court seat in Texas! Bartender, a bourbon, straight up!

As the Sharp-Rick Perry numbers stayed close throughout the evening, Democrats tried to remain upbeat. They were just sure that their guy would charge to victory. Perry didn't think so. On the large-screen TV, Sharp supporters watched in dead silence as the Republican claimed victory at 11:50 p.m.

But Sharp stayed upstairs. A good 45 minutes later, he paid a visit to his loyalists for the first and only time during the long and dreary evening.

"I apologize for not coming down sooner," he said, "but I didn't know what to say."

Buzz would have suggested: "Hi, friends. It is with great humility that I appear before you tonight. Your hard work over the years has made me look better than I had any right to look. God bless you all."

Fat chance.

Let's call the whole thing off
He's on the ballot. He's off. He's on. Does anyone care?
We're referring to Lee Alcorn, president of the Dallas branch of the NAACP, who is up for re-election on November 21. Maybe.

The confusion stems from two contradictory letters sent to the branch by Mark Clack, the national field officer for the civil rights organization. In one, dated October 21, Clack told Alcorn that his name would be excluded from the ballot because he didn't live or work in Dallas and was behind in his dues.

That was followed by a letter on October 30 in which Clack stated that he had not found enough merit to the claims about Alcorn's shortcomings, so the controversial leader could stay on the ballot.

Which would have been the end of it, except that Alcorn's opponents in the local branch chose to disregard the second letter. This week, a group of local election supervisory committee members, who apparently favor Alcorn's chief opponent Dwaine Caraway, decided to remove Alcorn from the ballot based on the first letter.

They claimed, disingenuously, that they thought the October 30 letter might be fake. Apparently they couldn't figure out how to work the buttons on their phones and call Clack in Baltimore to check it out. The Dallas Morning News may have had the same problem. It dutifully reported that Alcorn had been excluded from the ballot, though the paper's reporters were unable to reach anyone with the national NAACP concerning the second letter.

Clack says the committee had no authority to remove Alcorn. He also believes there is no way the committee members could have truly believed the October 30 letter was a fake. "It had a fax number on the top from Baltimore."

At this point, the whole situation is such a mess that Clack is considering postponing the scheduled November 21 vote for three weeks.

After the committee members met and dumped Alcorn, Clack said, Alcorn telephoned him at home. (Note to Alcorn: Maybe you should share that number with the Morning News.) Alcorn wanted Clack to know that the election supervisory committee members who support him had not been notified of the meeting. If that's true, Clack says, he will delay the election to clear up any confusion.

Good luck.
For his part, Alcorn blames his troubles on none other than Mayor Ron Kirk, who Alcorn believes still smolders about the times when the NAACP leader picketed at hizzoner's home. Kirk concedes he is no fan of Alcorn. "I have not paid my local dues. I pay straight to Baltimore," Kirk says, "because I don't support the local leadership." But the mayor insists he has not engaged in any activities to oust Alcorn. "I knew Lee would try to blame me," Kirk says, "I didn't want to give him that opportunity."

--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams

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