Bush biographer, Texas political journalist Wayne Slater killed in car crash

Photo via Penguin Random House

Wayne Slater, the retired Dallas Morning News political writer best known for his book on George W. Bush and Karl Rove, recently died in a car accident.

Slater died in a two-car accident in which no one else was seriously injured on December 20 while driving alone in Williamson County. He was 74 years old.

Austin-based political reporter from 1984, Slater covered the early political careers of Governor Ann Richards and Bush, including the future president’s five years as governor of Texas. Slater spent 16 months on the road with Bush’s first presidential campaign, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The diary’s obituary describes Slater in his first Austin-office:

After becoming the Austin bureau chief in late 1987, Slater focused on unlimited contributions to high-value state political campaigns. He tapped into emerging computer technologies, persuaded Dallas publishers to let him hire research assistants, and created the state’s first searchable campaign finance database, years before the Commission of Texas ethics does not.

Later, Slater gave ample account of the rise of the Christian right and the use of federal grant money by the then Attorney General, now Governor Greg Abbott, to prosecute irregularities in the ballot collections, primarily by defendants in northeast Texas who were African-American. .

Slater’s 2003 book, co-authored with James Moore, Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, was turned into a documentary the following year. The duo wrote a few other books on Karl Rove, including The architect: Karl Rove and the master plan for absolute power.

Bush released this statement about the journalist who died last week: “Wayne Slater was a hard-working and insightful journalist. He understood Texas politics better than anyone and was instrumental in his field. Laura and I send our condolences to Dianne.

After retiring in 2014, Slater became an assistant professor of public policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Slater is survived by his wife, Dianne, and their son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

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