GOP DIRECTOR ASKS: How Effective Are Conservative Democrats? zations. From the Tower campaign Leonard learned this plain political lesson: “Nothing can replace hard precinct work. That’s exactly what elected Tower. I’ve heard liberals say the conservative Democrats did it, and I’ve heard conservative Democrats say the liberals did it, and I’ve heard both liberals and conservative Democrats take the credit for it, but we had a very thorough organizational effort behind us.” How does he explain the gradual strengthening of the Texas GOP before the Tower victory? During the Nixon campaign in ’60, he says, Republicans were doing “the same kind of grassroots organizing” ;in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and a few other counties. “But there was no co-ordinated statewide effort. This work was steadily. going on, but ;it was pretty much unknown in other areas of the state. “Also, we got to the point where the issues were becoming clearer. There was a greater concern over the trend the federal government was taking. I think there was a nationwide trend toward conservatism as a ‘philosophy of ‘governmerutperhaps not necessarily a return to that ;philosophy, but CeTtainly a trend toward. “We’ve been hitting hard on this theme–don’t just complain, vote; and don’t just vote, get your neighbors and your friends to vote. Otherwise, what’s the use in complaining?” The election of Tower over Bill Blakley in May of last year “electrified conservatives. They were thrilled ‘to death. They were convinced it could be done.” Employing the noun “conservative” as most Texas Republicans have ‘begun to use itas tsynonymous with AUSTIN Red Berry, the wily old retired gambler from San Antonio who failed in the regular legislative session to get a racetrack constitutional amendment on the ballot, is at it again. He is circulating petitions, in the form of individual forms, to place a horse-racing referendum on the Democratic ballot this spring. There is a slight controversy on precisely how many signatures are needed. Berry says about 74,000. Others say 155,000. The state Democratic executive committee, if petitioned by ten percent of the party’s voters “as shown by the last primary election vote,” must place a referendum on the party ballot. Berry interprets “last primary election vote” as the run-off Democratic race of 1960, the MacDonald-Davidson judgeship election in which only 737,000 votes were cast. If the first Democratic ‘primary of 1960 is used as the base-1,552,000 voted in the Daniel-Cox raceBerry will need just over 155,000 names. Whatever figure is deemed necessary, Berry says he is confident he will ‘get “more than enough” for ‘the ‘horse-racing referendum and that he will probably get enough for another referendum on abolishing the poll tax which he has thrown in for good measure. If the referenda are placed on the party ballot and approved, they would ‘authorize the state party executive ‘committee to place the propositions in the party platform enacted at the September convention. Berry’s deadline on petitions is March 12, when he will appear be Republicanism even in a state where most conservatives remain at least ‘nominal, though disgruntled, DemocratsLeonard adds: “The Tower victory made conservatives \\ more mature politically. They’d gone through a campaign that was a little different from all previous campaigns in Texas.” How was it different? “It went right down to ‘the ‘grassroots. In the past when someone referred to a political organization, it meant about one man in every town, someone you could telephone for help, and that was about it. The one-party organization had degenerated any kind of sophisticated political action.” Influence Ended What is this reaction to appeals by conservative Democrats like Preston Weatherred \(Obs., Jan. not ‘to desert the Democratic Party because it might turn over that party to the liberals? “Let’s put it this way.” \(In the portunities to vote Republican. As a consequence, I used my vote in state and local races in the Democratic primaries. I felt a conservative could be effective within the Democratic Party. “The I began to realize being a conservative Democrat in Texas couldn’t assist in restoring a conservative climate in the nation. It appeared to me that the national Democratic Partyand the state party, for that matterwas in the control of liberals. It appeared to me that my influence in the Democratic Party ended at the precinct level. “I felt that my role as a conservative in the Democratic Party was based on compromise. “I believe in a well-defined, meaningful two-party syst em at fore the executive committee and present his results. He has sent copies of the horseracing and poll-tax petitions all over Texas. “We got ’em everywherein . Lawn, Wharton, Austin, Houston, Lubbock, El Paso, Cisco, La Grange, Fort Worthall over. I got this thing covered pretty well.” He has a master list of individuals who are circulating the forms. Berry ihad a bill before the special session which would have set the requisite number of signatures, based on the second 1960 primary, at 74,000. An attempt in the elections and privileges committee to set the figure at 155,000 was defeated, 11-4, but Berry said he idn’t want to push the bill to the floor “because it might bring in extraneous arguments.” He still argues in terms of tourists’ dollars and ‘tax revenue. One of his numerous charts shows that in 1937, the year Texas outlawed racing, states with legalized tracks were drawing some $8 million in tax revenue. In 1960, the 24 states with ‘racing drew $258 million. “If you’re gonna compare racing in ’37 and today, let’ just compare the horse-and-buggy and the Cadillac. “Why has the Texas tourist trade fell off? If we look around, we find many states way over their share. But they have lots to offer in entertainment. Do Northern tourists come ‘to Texas? No, they go ‘places like Florida, New Orleans, California, Arizona, Nevada. Places where there’s something to do besides go to a movie, get a jug, take a swig, and go to bed. They don’t have to come to Texas to do that. They can do that at ome.” both the state and national levels. A conservative can best express his views from his precinct to the county to the state and on to the national level only in the Republican Party. “As conservative Democrats we were pretty effective in precinct and county conventionsbut that was as far as it went.” ‘Leonard wants “a thoroughly form and a thoroughly conservative candidate.” And he predicts: “In 1964, we’re going to get a con servative candidate and a conservative platform.” Since Texas has taken the lead in conservative Republican activity in the South, Texas Republicans will carry strength and restige to the 1964 GOP convention. The Texas GOP, he says, will have a strong voice in ’64 for a tough, uncompromising party conservatism. The Big Cities How far is Texas from a genuine two-party system? “The election of a Republican overnor,” he believes, “would establish it. With ‘that we would also elect a fair number of legislators and county and city officials.” Establishing panty strength at the county level is a mighty task, Leonard admits. “There are 254 courthouses in Texasbut 65 percent of the voting population is centered In 31 counties. And that happens to be where our strength lies. “It’s a reverse from the national scene. The big cities usually are Democratic. In Texas we’e strongest in the citie.” The Republicans, Leonard says, are at their peak strength in Dallas, Bexar, and Harris counties. “The November election, I think, will prove that Tarrant Cotmty is a strong Republican area. We’re already strong in El Paso County,” which Tower carried both times. Elsewhere, the party is well-off in the Rio Grande Valley, around Midland \(“traditionally Repulican; when we win 3-1 there in national elections we feel we’ve Longview and ‘Kilgore, in the High Plains and the Panhandle. “We’re gaining in the Panhandle.” \(Rep. that.” He predicts there will be GOP legislators, congressmen, and county officials in the Panhandle after the general election. Leonard thinks there will be “no less than 15” Republicans running for Congress this year. In the Wichita Falls special election, “Joe Bailey Meissner ran a beautiful race even though he lost. And that’s strong yellow-dog Democratic country.” Isn’t it true that most conservative Democrats are reluctant to make the switch because they feel they would lose their influence and patronage on the state scene? “Yes, it is. But it’s ironic to me that they have no real control of the Democratic Partyno patronage to speak of. They’re not friendly with the present governor. They openly admit, as Weatherred says, a ‘gradual slippage’ of conservative strength in the last ten years. “But we’ve had no Republican primary in Texas since 1958, and as conservatives we’ve sat back and watched this gradual slippage they speak of. It’s too late for conservatives to be effective in the Democratic Party. That’s a rnYth “They contend that the conservative Democrats have the power in .the state legislature. I answer, a ‘republican will be more conservativeespecially in presidential years. “We see these people beating their breasts about how conservative they are, then they go out to a Democratic convention and come home and put Kennedy stickers on their cars. To me that’s not consistent. A conservative can throw his hands up over this and go home and make money and spend time with his familyor alternatively, as a Republican he can work from Hickory Street on up to the national level for conservatism. “Why do you have a political philosophy if it’s cut off at a cetain level? And have no voice at the national level at ll?” What about Allan Shivers making the switch? “Shivers was a great governor. He’s given tremendous assistance to the Republican effort in presidential years. In political philosophy, he’s more Republican than anything else. I don’t know if we’ll get him or not. I’d like to see him become a Republican. He has a large following and would be of great assistance to the Republican movement.” Has the growth of the GOP in Texas had any effect on the status of Vice-President Johnson? “I think it really has,” Leonard says. “It’s hurt his image here, and it’s certainly hurt his image outside the state. The growth of the Republican Party in Texas ranIdes him no end. The biggest thorn in his side now is the presence of Tower. I understand he took it for granted Blakley would win. “For a man who makes it known in Washington that he controls Texas,” the Tower victory “must’ve been a terrible embarrassment.” The dailies which have been most favorable ‘to the Texas Republicans, Leonard says, are the Dallas News, the Hailes chain in the Valley and in Odessa, ‘and the Amarillo ‘papers. The press in Beaumont and El Paso ‘has been “receptive to a two-party system.” The Corpus Christi Caller-Times has also been receptive, but “critical of conservative candidates. This is tine ‘with ‘me. I believe in a ‘good political fight. I don’t believe Texans have had a fair choice in a long ime.” One-Party Stagnation Is there a case for being a Republican in ‘terms of one-party corruption ? “Nct necessarily so. But if you have a two-party system, with one party watching over ‘the other as the loyal opposition and watchdog on legislation, ap ropriations, and expenditures, the danger of corruption ‘is ‘minimized, and if corruption did occur, it would be brought out at the next election and you’d probably have a change in administration. “A one-party system encourages stagnation in government, ‘a lckadaisical attitude in the legislature, legislation mainly for the sake of expediency. Would you say Texas is a dynamic state?” As for the Texas Democratic Party, Leonard finds it difficult “to_ consider it ‘a party at all. I ‘think this is really a no-party state. The standard bromide they ‘throw at the Republicans is that we’re the party of the status quo. But the Democrats have been in control of Texas ever since Reconstruction. I’d say in Texas the Democrats are the party of the status quo. “The Texas Democratic Party is an amalgamation held together by personalities. It’s the only party I know of that comes back from a national convention and writes Its own platform and then wins In November on the national platform under a governor who once supported Eisenhower.” Republican Jack Cox’s chances in the governor’s race are excellent, Leonard feels. “I think, in fact, he’ll be our next governor.” On John Connally: “He’s a wholly owned subsidiary of Lyndon Baines Johnson.” On Will Wilson: “His showing in the Senate race “proves he has a lot of work ‘to do. But he’s been in politics a long time, he’s known throughout the state, and e’s got one of the ‘greatest campaign issues in the worldLBJ and Connally.” On Price Daniel: “If he ‘runs, he’ll be the man to beat.” On Don Yarborough: “He’ll certainly get all ‘the liberal votes. Whether he’ll get all the labor votes, I don’t know.” The Race Issue Has the state GOP done anything to attract the Negro vote? “It’s difficult to say. We’ve organized in Negro precincts. We’ve urged them to vote for our candidates. “But I don’t feel ‘the race issue is a political issue as such. I don’t believe this should be a political football.” El Paso County Republicans, Leonard points out, have just named a Latin, Hilary Sandoval, ‘their new county chairman. “I’m a big advocate,” he says, “for getting down and working for these people. They’ve been treated ‘in ‘the past as a bloc vote. They’ve been urged to vote as a minority bloc. We’re opposed to taking this kind of political advantage. As long as you have ‘politicians who use the race issue’ as a political football, these people will remain in their present position.” Southern Impact Leonard has no doubts that the major impetus toward GOP organization throughout the South has come from Texas. “It’s very infectious, a definite wedge. There seems to be a breakthrough of Republican activity in the entire region.” He cites the election of a Republican mayor in Mobile; two city councilmen in Atlanta; the close congressional race in Shreveport; “a lot of activity in Florida”; and the election of one congressman, 13 state legislators, and a possible governor in Oklahoma. At ‘the regionai GOP \( .!onvention in Atlanta in November, attended by 17 Southern and ‘border states, Texas Republican’s “were pretty much given the honored place.” Republicans all over the South, he says, are realizing ‘that a conservative party platform and candidate in 1964 “won’t ‘be ‘possible without organization at the grass
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