Hillerman, Tony

Hillerman, Tony by The Fly on the Wall (v4) [html] Read Free Book Online

Book: Hillerman, Tony by The Fly on the Wall (v4) [html] Read Free Book Online
Authors: The Fly on the Wall (v4) [html]
the Governor in the doorway. “Paul,” he said. “How about a few minutes in private?”
    The view from the high windows in the Governor’s office was to the west, across the wooded hills where the capital city’s most expensive residential district was built. Cotton noticed that the trees were leafless, the morning continued to be bleak, and the Governor—standing by the window—was in a good mood, which might mean he would be talkative. He was talking now. Yes, he had said, there was something to be said for giving Cotton a frank, off-the-record, for-background-use-only analysis of the Senate race. And now he was philosophizing about the anatomy of politics.
    “This tax-reform plan, for example,” Roark was saying. “If we can punch it through the Legislature about a half-million taxpayers will like it and ten thousand will hate my guts. The half-million taxpayers don’t care much, and don’t understand it very well, and have short memories. But the utility companies, and the bankers, and the big real-estate operators, and all the fat cats who have been getting a free ride—those birds don’t forget who gored their ox.”
    “They don’t,” Cotton said. “But that’s not important to you unless you’re running for the Senate nomination. Have you decided?”
    “I’d rather talk completely off the record.”
    “Make it not for attribution, for my background only.”
    “None of this sources-close-to-the-Governor crap?”
    “If I use anything you tell me, it’ll sound like it came right off the wall.”
    “Well,” Roark said, “I’ve decided in a sense. I’ve decided I want to run. I think you reporters know that. If it was now, I’d run. I think it looks fairly good for me. A fair chance. But it may not look good by April. Something could sour it. A hundred things could screw it up.”
    Roark walked slowly from the window to his desk and sat down, a trim, handsome man who moved with a natural grace that Cotton admired and envied. He looked at Cotton for a long, silent moment. Then he said: “Korolenko thinks I could beat him, and so does Bill Gavin. They’re both old pros and they know a lot of people, but maybe they hear what they want to hear. Both of ’em hate Clark. What do you think, Johnny? Can Clark be beaten?”
    “I don’t know,” Cotton said. “He’d kill you on the East Side and he runs strong in the suburbs. You’d need a heavy turnout unless you get more party help than I can see now, and you’d need a good batting average on your legislative program, and you’d need a break or two between now and election. And you’d need maybe five hundred thousand dollars.”
    “Exactly,” Roark said. “Exactly. Today it looks pretty good. Next month we could have my highway program killed, and my tax reforms gutted, and somebody caught stealing in one of my agencies, and two or three bad headlines about something else, and it could look hopeless. A hundred things could screw it up.”
    “But as of now you’re getting ready,” Cotton said. “Have you found the money? Or are you going to spend your own?”
    “I don’t have that much. And nobody ever won in this state spending his own money,” Roark said.
    “That’s right. So who’s going to finance the campaign?”
    “Some of it’s committed, more or less. At least Korolenko tells me we can count on enough.”
    “How much does Joe think is enough?”
    Roark evaded the question, as Cotton knew he would. He talked generally of campaign costs. With television spots costing $2,000 a minute money wouldn’t stretch far. Gene Clark would be superbly financed by banking and defense industries, as always, but Clark’s enemies would spend something to get him out of the Senate. After fifteen minutes, Cotton had a fair picture of the Governor’s tactical thinking and a few specific odds and ends of facts. The shakeup in the Randolph County Democratic Central Committee had been Roark-inspired, to eliminate a diehard Clark booster.

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