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RIP, Jim Mattox

Former Attorney General and longtime Democratic activist Jim Mattox has died at the age of 65.

Jim Mattox, the self-styled “people’s lawyer” who took on major corporations during eight years as Texas attorney general, has died.

Mattox, 65, died in his sleep Wednesday night or early Thursday morning at his home in Dripping Springs, southwest of Austin, said Democratic consultant Kelly Fero.

A former member of both the Texas and U.S. House of Representatives, Mattox was known as a fierce campaigner. When an opponent called him a “junkyard dog,” he said he would act like one to protect children, the elderly and other powerless Texans.

After serving two terms as attorney general, starting in 1983, Mattox ran for governor but was defeated by Ann Richards in a bitter Democratic primary battle.

As attorney general, he built the office into a modern law firm and diversified it with women and minority lawyers. His legal staff handled more than 2 million cases and won judgments totaling more than $2.5 billion for the state.

He closed nursing homes, took on oil companies that had shortchanged Texas on its royalties, sued car dealers for odometer rollbacks, fought to increase regulatory agencies’ abilities to deal with polluters, and challenged airlines, Quaker Oats and car manufacturers on the accuracy of their advertising.

I remember Mattox mostly for his contentious 1990 primary for Governor against Ann Richards. As such, I have a somewhat one-sided view of him as a bulldog candidate, who was not at all afraid to go for the throat. But he was very well liked and respected in Democratic and progressive circles, and he was still out there stirring stuff up until the end. That’s not a bad way to go, if you ask me. Vince and PoliTex have more. Rest in peace, Jim Mattox.

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7 Comments

  1. 'stina says:

    Dammit. He was one of those awesome Democrats that fought, fought, fought. Meaner than a pit bull, but on the right side.

  2. 'stina says:

    Dammit. He was one of those awesome Democrats that fought, fought, fought. Meaner than a pit bull, but on the right side.

  3. 'stina says:

    Dammit. He was one of those awesome Democrats that fought, fought, fought. Meaner than a pit bull, but on the right side.

  4. 'stina says:

    Dammit. He was one of those awesome Democrats that fought, fought, fought. Meaner than a pit bull, but on the right side.

  5. 'stina says:

    Dammit. He was one of those awesome Democrats that fought, fought, fought. Meaner than a pit bull, but on the right side.

  6. Bill Tilney says:

    Jim Mattox represented the best in Texas. He was a fine Attoney General and State Legislator and Congressman. He helped his fellow Texan. He was known as a bull dog. I will miss him. Vaya con Dios.Bill Tilney

  7. 'stina says:

    Dammit. He was one of those awesome Democrats that fought, fought, fought. Meaner than a pit bull, but on the right side.