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Wondering why Tony Sanchez is on this issue's cover?

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Oddly enough, the Tony Sanchez cover story ("Looking for Tony") was originally scheduled for our election issue on Nov. 10. I think, editorially, this was a little dense on our part, and I take my share of the blame. I was in Los Angeles for most of that week. I'd like to think that if I had been here, I would have realized the inappropriateness of the cover early on, especially given the voting results. The staff did. They decided to go with the all-black cover with the "W" in the middle. Although I love that cover aesthetically and philosophically, I'm less pleased with the execution: I have problems with the darker covers because the ink comes off on your hands. The black "W" cover proved controversial; many people called or wrote to ask what it meant. Some were indignant. Given the events of the past month, the cover seems ever more poetically eloquent.

Tony Sanchez is on the cover this week not simply because he may run for governor but also because of what that represents -- the gradual assumption of more and more political authority by minorities in Texas. A conservative Democrat such as Sanchez could energize voters, and that could change the identity of the already ailing Democratic Party in Texas.

In light of the recent voting patterns and results in this area, a Sanchez run would reverberate strongly in our community. Texas has always been mostly conservative (though it used to be Democratic), but it was also much more rural. The new Texas shows evidence of a widespread suburban, conservative, Republican population that's more rooted in social ambition than the land. This is just as true in Central Texas, traditionally a liberal/progressive stronghold. Our community is not just physically changing; its personality is changing, too. A Sanchez run will not only make a statement about Hispanic power in Texas, but it also might begin to remake the Democratic Party. This may not be a good thing if what emerges is a slightly liberal neo-Republicanism.

The consequences of Florida will have a profound effect in Texas. A number of people I really respect have chided me for my call for Gore to concede. Obviously, in the real world, this has no effect, but I just feel uncomfortable about an election won in the courts and by excluding certain ballots and including others. Rick Perry as governor, however, does give me serious pause. But whether Bush goes or stays, it will affect our state and its politics.

While the overall election has been wildly entertaining, the results in Travis County were a little disquieting. This area has long been a doughnut where the center, the central city, controlled the outer ring. This has begun to change. This time there was more turnout in the south and northwest areas than anywhere else. The voter turnout is continuing to significantly shift to the developments ringing the west side of town. Changing voters means, especially in this case, changing politics.

Tony Sanchez, regardless of whether he runs or not, regardless of whether he is elected or not, is the perfect symbol of Texas' political future. We better start thinking right now about what that really means. end story

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