News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Democratic runoff victor Kirk gears up for November

By Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 reporter

Dallas, TX – A crowd is cheering as Aretha Franklin's "Respect" plays over loudspeakers.

Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 reporter: There was a little Aretha Franklin and a lot of cheering at Ron Kirk's victory party as the early returns began to pour in. Kirk was leading Victor Morales by nine points, as he did for almost the remainder of the evening. It was Morales who had crooned for respect from Democratic leaders throughout much of the campaign because they openly supported Kirk. And State Party Chairwoman Molly Beth Malcolm even joined Kirk last night to celebrate.

Texas Democratic Party Chairwoman Molly Beth Malcolm: Whoever the Democratic candidate would have been, that's who I would have been supporting in that. However, I think Ron Kirk is our best shot at beating John Cornyn.

Sprague: Kirk joins fellow Democrats Tony Sanchez and John Sharp at the top of the November ballot. Some supporters call it "the dream ticket," with one African-American, one Hispanic, and one Anglo. Molly Beth Malcolm calls it a "reality ticket," reflecting the state's ethnic diversity.

Malcolm: I think what Ron Kirk brings to this ticket and heading this ticket is a charisma and a leadership style that will certainly benefit not only the state of Texas, but our ticket as well.

Music continues to play with cheering.

Sprague: Right at 10 o'clock, Ron Kirk ascended the stage at the Hall of State in Fair Park to claim victory, while supporters chanted, "Go, Ron, go!"

Ron Kirk, Candidate for U.S. Senate: That's the story of my life. I just get here and now y'all want me to go. [Laughing]

Sprague: Kirk told the crowd what it meant to him, for a child of the poll tax era to run for the U.S. Senate seat once held by Lyndon Johnson. And he said he owed a special debt of gratitude to his opponent.

Kirk: ...because Victor Morales appeals to a large percentage of people in this state who, for too long, have felt locked out of the political process and it's our responsibility now to say to them that if we are the new establishment of the Democratic Party, please understand that this is an establishment made up of farm workers and teachers and laborers and women and African-Americans and Hispanics and Anglos and progressives and small business people, and we are the true Texas.

Sprague: Victor Morales says he doesn't intend to support Ron Kirk in the general election, although he wouldn't elaborate on his reasons. He blames voting irregularities and the Democratic Party for his defeat, but says he won't pursue his complaints in court.

Victor Morales, Candidate for U.S. Senate: I'm a schoolteacher, for crying out loud?I mean, I have to work. I've got to go back to class. I mean, I don't have enough time or the finances to get into any kind of a legal, not that I even would.

Sprague: Morales says he has no regrets about the campaign, but wishes he had had the money to campaign more actively across the state. Ron Kirk now faces a seven-month campaign against Republican State Attorney General John Cornyn. Last night, he compared this election to a triathlon. Having completed the first two legs of the race, he still has a marathon to run in order to win in November. For KERA 90.1, I'm Suzanne Sprague.


To contact Suzanne Sprague, please send email to