Meet Grady Yarbrough.
At 75, retired educator Grady Yarbrough finally has achieved some statewide notoriety.
With a low-budget campaign targeting Hispanics and fellow African Americans, Yarbrough finished second in the Democratic primary race for U.S. senator, qualifying for a July 31 runoff.
Next comes the hard part for Yarbrough, an East Texas native who’s lived in San Antonio since 2000: Trying to outpoll hard-charging lawyer Paul Sadler from Henderson, who served in the Texas House from 1991 to 2003.
But Yarbrough sees no disadvantage in possibly being a newcomer to elected office.
“It’s people with legislative experience who got us in this predicament we’re in financially. Experience is not always the key,” Yarbrough said Thursday.
Yarbrough got 127,971 votes on Tuesday, compared to 173,947 for Sadler; 113,412 for Addie Dainell Allen and 79,981 for Sean Hubbard. It was the fourth statewide race for Yarbrough, a Tyler County product who ran unsuccessfully in 1986 and 1990 for the GOP nomination for land commissioner, and in 1994 as a Democrat for state treasurer.
Yarbrough bristles at any suggestion that he’s capitalized on his familiar surname, similar to that of two statewide office-holders decades ago and one frequent candidate.
“They equate my familiar name to someone who was a senator 30-40 years ago. That’s the mainstream media trying to sabotage my campaign,” Yarbrough said.
Gene Kelly hasn’t run for anything since 2008, but his legacy lives on. I have no idea if anyone might have mistaken this guy for Ralph Yarborough or anyone else. My contention is that in a race of mostly unknowns you’re likely to get a random result, and that’s what we have here. And I personally would say that it’s the Republicans who got us into this financial predicament. What exactly would Grady Yarbrough do to help fix that predicament? I wish I could tell you, but he doesn’t say. There is no discussion of his position on any issue in this story, and Yarbrough doesn’t have a web page, so you’re kind of on your own. Thankfully, the Texas Trib posted a copy of a TV ad that apparently ran once in the Waco area, in which Yarbrough says he supports the DREAM Act and favors forgiving part of the interest on student loans, and also vows to never support cuts for Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. So at least now we know that much.
Having eyed the Senate seat for several years, Yarbrough paid a $5,000 filing fee to join this year’s fray. Eschewing contributions, he said he’s spent about $20,000 in retirement savings on billboards, mail and travel — mainly to target minority voters.
Through April, Sadler raised about $90,000 and spent about $69,000, according to the Federal Election Commission.
With the two-month runoff campaign, “I’m going to have to invest quite a bit more,” he said. “I do it all myself,” without consultants or volunteers, he added.
“I am doing selective campaigning. When there is a heavy Hispanic and African American population in those counties, I go directly to those places. That’s how I’ve gotten to where I am now,” he said, adding that he’s campaigned in Kingsville, Laredo and Brownsville.
You’re not going to be able to reach many voters with twenty grand. I mean, a State Rep candidate would have a hard time getting his or her name out on that kind of budget. As for Yarbrough’s contention that he did well in Cameron (Brownsville), Kleberg (Kingsville), and Webb (Laredo) Counties because he selectively campaigned there, let’s check the numbers and see:
Candidate Votes Pct ====================================== Addie Dainell Allen 4,587 25.63% Sean Hubbard 3,016 16.85% Paul Sadler 6,292 35.16% Grady Yarbrough 3,998 22.34%Candidate Votes Pct ====================================== Addie Dainell Allen 347 21.34% Sean Hubbard 210 12.91% Paul Sadler 579 35.60% Grady Yarbrough 490 30.13%Candidate Votes Pct ====================================== Addie Dainell Allen 5,445 30.43% Sean Hubbard 3,547 19.82% Paul Sadler 4,997 27.92% Grady Yarbrough 3,904 21.81%
Yarbrough got 25.83% statewide, to Sadler’s 35.11%. As such, we see that he did do better than his baseline in Kleberg, but did worse in Cameron and Webb. Indeed, had he done as well statewide as he did in those two counties, Sadler would be running off against Addie Dainell Allen. Maybe sticking a bit more closely to the Gene Kelly playbook would be the better choice. As for me, my choice remains Paul Sadler.
(In case you’re wondering, here also are the results for Bell, Coryell, and McLennan counties, which is my interpretation of “the Waco area”, where that ad ran once. Yarbrough didn’t mention that in the story, and I didn’t come across that link till after I’d written this entry, so I didn’t work these results into the ones above. Not that it really matters, I don’t see any evidence it made a difference, but I’m including this afternote here for completeness.)