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By Sue Owen June 8, 2012
By W. Gardner Selby June 8, 2012

Paul Sadler says Grady Yarbrough ran twice statewide as Republican

Paul Sadler, a former legislator who is in a July 2012 runoff for the Democratic Party U.S. Senate nomination, told the Hispanic Caucus at the Texas Democratic Party state convention in Houston: "I’m running against a gentleman from San Antonio that ran as a Republican statewide twice."

Sadler was referring to Grady Yarbrough, a retired schoolteacher who made the July 31 runoff in the May primary by finishing second to Sadler, who carried 35 percent to Yarbrough’s 26 percent.

And has Yarbrough run previously for statewide office -- as a Republican?

That’s so, according to a June 1, 2012, Houston Chronicle news article, which says this year Yarbrough is making his fourth statewide race. The story says he sought the 1986 and 1990 Republican nominations for state land commissioner and the 1994 Democratic nomination for state treasurer.

According to election results posted online by the state, Yarbrough lost the 1994 Democratic primary for state treasurer to incumbent Martha Whitehead. The Texas Secretary of State’s office does not post the 1990 and 1986 primary results online, so we looked via the Nexis service for old news accounts mentioning Yarbrough’s runs as a Republican.

According to a February 20, 1994, Dallas Morning News news article, Yarbrough, then a Tyler high school teacher, had run in 1986 and 1990 as a Republican for state land commissioner, losing runoffs both years.

"This year," the Morning News story says, "he not only changed his political affiliation but also the spelling of his name, listing himself in his application for a place on the Democratic primary ballot as ‘Grady Yarborough.’" The story quotes Yarbrough as saying he made the name change for the ballot to counter allegations made by his opponent in the 1990 land commissioner's race that he was simply running then because "Yarbrough" prompted sympathetic sentiment, a reference to Ralph Yarborough, who had been one of the state’s U.S. senators.

According to a June 7, 1986, Associated Press news story, Yarbrough lost the 1986 Republican runoff to M.D. Anderson, Jr., who had fended off criticism that he was trying to capitalize on his name matching the name of the well-known cancer treatment center.

Finally, we reached Yarbrough, who confirmed his past Republican runs, saying of Sadler: "He’s trying to use a smear campaign, huh?"

In a telephone interview, Yarbrough said he was invited by a Tyler friend to help the Republican Party in about 1984 and volunteered to help Republican Bill Clements make his successful last run for governor in 1986. Yarbrough said he left the GOP after the party’s chairman in 1990 refused to condemn another candidate for the party's land commissioner nomination who had offended Yarbrough by saying that his name was adapted from slave holders. The opponent, Yarbrough told us, "should not have brought that up."

Featured Fact-check

Yarbrough said he became a Democrat after the 1990 race because he felt he was no longer welcome in the Republican Party.

We rate Sadler’s statement as True.

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More by Sue Owen

Paul Sadler says Grady Yarbrough ran twice statewide as Republican

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