Can Bart Simpson Beat Cosby? In Texas They're Not Sure the Real Bart Can Beat Leticia Van De Putte

updated 09/17/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/17/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Don't have a cow, man—have an elephant! The Republicans have nominated Bart Simpson for the Texas State Legislature.

This Bart Simpson is no radical dude though. He's a staunchly conservative 24-year-old business executive who wants to be Bexar County's representative in Austin. He would never dream of saying anything as provocative as "Eat my shorts!"—even to a Democrat. Instead of speaking in vicious little sound bites, Barton Tinsley Simpson of San Antonio tends to say things like "There's too much government interference with business."

Until they found a candidate who shared his name with a yellow-faced cartoon icon, GOP officials weren't going to field a candidate in the 115th district, a Democratic stronghold. Then, last month, the Democrats nominated 35-year-old Leticia Van de Putte, and Simpson called the Republicans to say he was available. No one called him back. "The Democrats have been known to make prank calls like that," says county GOP executive director Steve Heinrich.

After a nudge from Simpson's Aunt Libba, a GOP stalwart, the party nominated him after all—based on his merits. of course. "Bart is the sort of person who is a credit to our party," says Heinrich. "His name had not that much to do with it." Since then Simpson has been inundated with requests for interviews and talk show appearances. He seems surprised by all the attention. "I really hadn't heard of the cartoon character until just a few months ago," he says. "And I've only seen the show once. I thought it was pretty funnyand that the Simpsons seemed like a true-to-life family."

The Democrats are upset about Simpson's nomination, which they say was based strictly on name recognition. Republicans, in turn, point out that the Democrats recently ran a candidate named Gene Kelly for judge in Bexar County. And party director Heinrich argues that name recognition might not be that important in Simpson's race against Van de Putte. "It may be worth a few extra votes, and it may not," he says.

The suggestion makes Simpson bristle. "After all," he says, "my opponent's name is not so great either."

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