Have the Democrats Written Off Royce West?

District Attorney candidate Royce West, some say, is the black sheep of the local Democratic Party. Others go further, claiming he is the party’s sacrificial lamb.

Sources close to the West campaign think the county Democratic Party has conceded the race to Republican John Vance. They believe the only reason West got support from the party bigwigs during his primary race against Peter Lesser was to draw more blacks to the polls in November and thus aid the state party ticket.

West is having a very difficult time raising money from traditional party supporters. West’s campaign workers have been making a special appeal to black professional and fraternal organizations, but they have been disappointed in the amount of money raised from Dallas’s buppies.

In July, West and some of his campaign workers met with county party officials. Sources say West’s campaign treasurer, Eric Moye, told the gathering, “We are not . going to let Royce West become the Lucy Pat-terson of the Democratic Party.”

Patterson, of course, was recruited by the Republican Party in 1982 to run against Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Martin Frost. She was beaten badly in that race and later charged the Republicans with backing down on their promises to help finance a viable campaign.

Will “Remember Lucy Patter-son” be the battle cry of black county Democratic workers during the fall campaign?

“That’s absurd,” says County Democratic Chairman Sandy Kress about notions that the party had written off West. “Anybody who says that simply doesn’t know anything about politics.”

Kress says the county party is committed to all of its candidates, and that he personally has done everything he can to help West’s campaign. “I even volunteered to serve on Royce’s finance committee.”

While he believes that “it will be an uphill battle” to get West elected, Kress thinks it can be done. He says he will be spending more time with the West campaign than any other individual race.

Some party loyalists feel that West is partly to blame for his campaign’s slow start. They claim that he has not been visible enough in the community. Also, Democratic party officials expect blacks, who traditionally have not given much financial support to political races, to bear more of the burden in raising money for the man they want to make Dallas’s first black DA. “They never asked for our money before,” says one black campaign worker. “In the past, they only asked for our vote. Why should it be different this time?”


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