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Tigua nemesis Texas attorney general to run for Senate seat

HOUSTON, Texas ? Tribal nemesis John Cornyn will run for the Senate seat vacated by U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas.

Texas Attorney General Cornyn, a Republican, has won wide attention in Indian country by his attempts to close down two Indian gaming facilities in Texas. He has attacked the issue of tribal sovereignty by saying the two federally recognized tribes in his state have the same status as a fraternity or a sorority.

Jane Shepard from the attorney general's media office confirmed that Cornyn will be running for the Senate seat, but said as a state employee she couldn't say anything more about it because it was a political matter.

"You are correct, but as a state employee I am not allowed to talk about political races," Shepard said. "But I can confirm that for you."

Do the Tigua and the Alabama-Coushatta tribes, who are currently fighting to maintain their sovereignty and their gaming operations, view Cornyn as the next Slade Gorton?

"Yes they are looking at it like that," said Marc Schwartz, spokesman for the Tigua tribe.

Representatives from the Tigua tribe were still in New Orleans arguing in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals against the state's attempt to close their Speaking Rock Casino and were unavailable for further comment at this time.

The trial arguments between the state of Texas and the Tigua tribe began on Jan. 9 in New Orleans. At issue is the fate not only of the Tigua tribal gaming facility, but also a new entertainment center opened by the Alabama-Coushatta. Cornyn has just brought suit to close the east Texas casino operated by the Alabama-Coushatta but that case will not be decided until the Tigua trial is over.

A decision is expected soon in the Tigua case, but both parties have stated that if they lose they plan on an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.