My friend Bob Krueger left us on Saturday. He was 86.
He was a U.S. Senator, member of Congress, Texas Railroad Commissioner, Ambassador, professor, and scholar. A Shakespearian scholar at that
He leaves his lovely wife Kathleen and his children.
I had the honor of being a groomsman in Kathleen and his wedding.
I also had the privilege of working on his campaign for the U.S. Senate back in 1978.
He was a great man. A good guy. One of the best campaigners. Up before dawn and work way into the night.
Those were the days when we would make four or five cities or small towns in a day. He never took a single voter for granted and would always be engaging in one on one with folks we would meet.
He was incredibly smart. I would ask on occasion on the trail to quote me some Shakespeare and he would always eloquently oblige. It sounded better than what you would see in the movies.
He was an articulate and inspirational speaker on the campaign trail.
In 1978, we took on three term incumbent GOP Senator John Tower. I remember at the State LULAC Convention in Laredo that summer, Tower’s Latino slogan was “Con Nosotros.” Bob turned that “Con Nosotros” on Tower in his remarks and completely eviscerated Tower. Tower followed us to speak and was visibly shaken. Krueger’s speech made newspapers the next day.
That campaign had that moment where Sen. Tower refused to shake Bob’s hand at an event in Houston and the refusal was captured on camera and made a bunch of newspaper front pages the next day.
The race was also a closely watched national race. On a few occasions we were accompanied on the trail and on our private twin engine ride by high profile national political writers.
In the end, we were not able to pull off a win.
Sen. Tower garnered 1,151, 376 votes for 49.8%.
Bob got 1,139,149 for 49.3%.
A 12,227-vote difference.
Luis Diaz de Leon, the Raza Unida party candidate, received 17,869 votes.
A winner wasn’t declared until 18 hours after the polls closed.
I worked on Bob’s campaign from February of 1978 to November of 1978.
The campaign team consisted of Garry Mauro, Tom Henderson, Carolyn Henderson, Roy Spence, Judy Trabulsi, Helen Sneed, Linda Gammage, Alvin Pruitt, Juan Maldonado, John Pouland, Lukin Gilliland, Buck Wildman, Alan Schoenbaum, Jeanette Stephenson, Dan Dutko, Bob Mann, Bill White, Beth Antonious, Larry Macon, Hugo Berlanga, Danny Anchondo and Ed Wendler, to name a few. I know I left off some folks. Some are no longer with us. Some became elected officials. Some are still in the game.
It was as great an assemblage of political talent a Democratic statewide campaign in Texas has ever been. Garry led our team as the campaign manager. We believed Texas deserved Bob Krueger. Krueger of Texas was our campaign tagline.
Garry recruited me to join the campaign. That was my second statewide campaign following my work in 1976 as the Deputy Director of the Texas Democratic Party Get-Out-The-Vote effort.
I had met Bob briefly in 1977. We hit it off well when I joined the campaign. He trusted my judgment and I had his confidence.
It was one of the best and exciting campaigns I have ever been involved with, and certainly the most grueling and exhausting.
As a member of Congress, Bob was an expert on energy issues and was a leading voice to extend the 1975 Voting Rights Act for language minorities in Texas.
He was a great Democrat. A great statesman. A great leader.