TEA PARTY TEXAS: This just in: Texas Republicans hate Washington! Nearly 70 percent of those who voted in a wild three-way primary for governor on March 2 supported one of two candidates who’ve flirted with secession, demagogued about "states’ rights" and raised the ghost of John C. Calhoun with calls for "nullification and interposition." Fifty-one percent of those anti-Washington votes went to Governor Rick Perry, the two-term incumbent, enough for Perry to avoid a runoff with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who finished a distant second with 30 percent. By the end of the campaign, Perry and tea party insurgent Debra Medina–who came in third with 18 percent of the vote after mounting a surprisingly competitive low-budget race–had turned Hutchison from the state’s most popular politician into a squirrelly symbol of federal "gummint," as the late Molly Ivins used to call it.
Now Perry will face the state’s most popular advocate and practitioner of good gummint in the general election. Former Houston Mayor Bill White, who won more than three-fourths of the Democratic primary vote over six opponents, has been sharply critical of Perry’s antigovernment grandstanding and claims to embody "true Texas values." "We are committed to competence," White said at his victory celebration, "and we consider that a Texas value too." That message sounds like a sure loser in Texas–except that White has out-fundraised Perry, leads in the polls among likely independent voters and stands to benefit from the demographic changes eating away at Texas Republicans’ edge. Whether White can break the GOP’s sixteen-year unbeaten streak in statewide races will depend, more than anything, on whether the majority of Texans are ready, at long last, to stomach the prospect of functional governance. BOB MOSER
FRONTIER FILMMAKER: The documentary filmmaker and political radical Leo Hurwitz (1909-91) might have been described as a one-man Popular Front, if he hadn’t begun making films several years before the Popular Front was declared. Working with fellow artists who ranged from Paul Strand to Paul Robeson, he directed, photographed or participated in many of the key American leftist films of the 1930s and ’40s, from a "workers’ newsreel" report on the National Hunger March on Washington in 1932 to The Plow That Broke the Plains, Heart of Spain, China Strikes Back and Native Land.
That much is in all the histories, as is Hurwitz’s place on Hollywood’s blacklist. Less well-known is Hurwitz’s role in the early 1950s in helping to develop the type of shot-on-the-scene documentary that’s now standard fare on television (Emergency Ward); his pioneering work in memorializing Auschwitz (The Museum and the Fury, made in 1956 for Film Polski); and his explorations in the 1960s and ’70s of subjects such as the visual arts, the poetry of Hart Crane and the waterfront of his native New York.
So if the culture of the Popular Front (before, during and after) deserves a respectful re-evaluation, as D.D. Guttenplan recently argued in these pages, the full career of Leo Hurwitz is a subject begging for exploration. Fortunately, it’s getting one: a thorough retrospective titled "Leo Hurwitz and the New York School of Documentary Film," on view at Anthology Film Archives in New York City, March 10-19. These are not pictures you can get through Netflix; nor can they be fully appreciated in a living room. You want to gather shoulder-to- shoulder with your fellow moviegoers and see them on Second Avenue. For information: anthologyfilmarchives.org STUART KLAWANS