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Candidate Sponsors Contest To Publicize Campaign

September 26, 1988

DALLAS (AP) _ A candidate for the state’s highest criminal court is publicizing his campaign with a contest that asks entrants about the race and promises a free trip to Sea World to the winner.

Judge Tom Rickhoff of San Antonio, who says his bid for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has received little attention, placed a full-page ad in the September issue of Texas Monthly magazine with pictures of himself, a penguin and a dolphin under the headline ″A Real Political Contest.″

The ad includes a contest entry form that invites Texans to answer four true-or-false questions about Rickhoff’s race against incumbent Judge Charles Miller.

The winner, to be selected in a drawing Oct. 18, gets a four-day, three- night vacation in San Antonio, complete with passes to see Sea World of Texas, tickets to a San Antonio Spurs basketball game and a tour of the Alamo.

And there are prizes for the runners-up: 10 pounds of Tex-Mex frozen shrimp, three pairs of jogging shoes and an assortment of candy.

″It’s innovative,″ said Rickhoff, who is currently a Republican state district judge in San Antonio.

″This is embarrassing,″ Miller said.

Randy Erben, assistant secretary of state, said his office has studied Rickhoff’s contest and concluded it does not violate state election law.

Miller said the idea shows poor judgment.

″It creates a circus atmosphere in a race that ought to be dealt with seriously,″ he said.

Rickhoff said he decided to conduct the contest after finding that people not only didn’t recognize his name, but had never heard of the Court of Criminal Appeals, the court of last resort for criminal cases in Texas.

He said he wants to ″dramatize the fact that there is a citizen wall of apathy around the race.″ He added that he’s received only about two dozen entries.

The contest entry blank also has a box that can be checked for donations, but the ad specifies that entrants need not contribute to enter the contest.

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