The Permanent Campaign

In Chuck Bailey’s trove of electoral collectibles— buttons and bumper stickers and matchbooks and the like— the history of Texas politics lives forever.

Chuck Bailey’s fascination with campaign memorabilia began one evening in 1960 when his dad gave him a pile of “Kennedy-Johnson” buttons. This had a twofold effect: It started Bailey’s lifelong hobby, and it gave the Fort Worth sixth-grader ammunition against all the “Nixon” buttons he’d seen at school.

From that moment on, Bailey began hoarding items related to Texas campaigns: dominoes and paper fans and pins and key chains and rulers and emery boards and combs and shoestrings and, well, just about anything that can carry a name and a slogan. Today the collection has ballooned to more than four thousand items—he isn’t sure of the exact number—and the best are captured in Texas Political Memorabilia: Buttons, Bumper Stickers, and Broadsides, which will be published by the University of Texas Press in February.

Bailey’s avocation has never strayed far from his vocation. A formidable lawyer, he moved to Austin in 1978 and worked for the likes of Bill Clements (he was assistant general counsel for the former governor) and Bob Bullock (he served in a variety of roles, including chief of staff, for the late comptroller and lieutenant governor); for the past decade, he’s run his own law firm and worked as a lobbyist. He still hits antiques shops around the state and keeps an eye out for political auctions, and over the

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