Connally Makes Moves; Bentsen Is Thinking The stark implications of the situation are finding bald statement. Allen Duckworth, Dallas News political editor, writes that a big switch to the GOP “could be disastrous to those who control the state Democratic Party machinery. Gov . John Connally, not popular with labor and many far-left liberals, could be hurt.” \(And, said Duckworth, if Connally and Lyndon Johnson did not have control of the next state Democratic convention, and it did not endorse Johnson for a second term as vice San Antonio Express, Jon Ford commented that the liberal movement in Texas “may not accomplish anything spectacular in 1964, but spectacular results are not outside the realm of possibility.” The Valley Morning Star reported on Sept. 8: “But the real worry of the conservative Democrats, according to the pros, is for the future of John Connally. Don Yarborough . . . could very well make Connally a oneterm governor. If union, liberal, and raceoriented groups like PASO could unite on Don Yarborough, Gov. Connally might be looking through the want ads next year.” Connally has been edging toward the conservative side of the street more and more. He was represented, by a Dallas News reporter covering the conference of Southern governors last month, as saying that as of now Goldwater would carry Texas, though the situation would change to the Democrats’ advantage. The News also quoted him as saying there that “it was conceivable, but not foreseeable, in 1964 that some condition might develop” that he would net support a Democrat for president in 1964, but that not Goldwater or anyone in the wings could lead him to such a course in 1964. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram quoted him directly from that conference on the point: “I could envision some circumstances under which I could support a person other than a Democat, although I certainly don’t see anybody in the wings of the Constitution or Republican Parties who would make me do it in 1964.” He said that much of the dissatisfaction with Kennedy has to do with civil rights, and there will not be much difference between the two parties on that in ’64. Apparently the governor has become edgy about Ralph Yarborough. The senior senator has been pot-shotting, no doubt of that. At the Labor Day picnic in Austin, for example, Yarborough said that Texas “hasn’t had a progressive governor since Jimmy Allred.” Behind the scenes at the labor convention in Houston, he said he wasn’t too old to run for governor. Connally himself said nothing on these mat 6 The,Texas Observer ters, but a spokesman of his was quoted as saying they’re tired of Yarborough’s backdoor criticism and would welcome him as an opponent. “I would rather ha ve Ralph as an opponent than Don,” one Connally organizer was quoted. THE SEARCH for an opponent for Ralph Yarborough next May continues and was not settled at our press time, despite the appearance from the press reports that Lloyd Bentsen of McAllen is “the man.” But, Cong. Joe Kilgore, McAllen, having definitely declined the honor of opposing the senator ; ex-Gov. Allan Shivers being indisposed to run, but saying, according to his friend, Dallas News editorial writer Dick West, that “Ralph won’t go back to Washington by default” ; and Cong. Jim Wright, Fort Worth, also loath to run, even though he has also withdrawn from consideration for an ambassadorship, all eyes are turned now on Bentsen. It is interesting that on Aug. 13, 150 friends of Orville I. Cox, former president of the board of Pan American College, gathered at the McAllen Country Club for an appreciation dinner. Among the visitors were Gov. Connally, Shivers, and Bentsen. Bentsen introduced Connally, who was the main speaker. The next day Connally gave a reception at his motel, according to the Valley Evening Star, “inviting Valley friends.” It stands to reason that sometime during these two days, three of the men who attended the Cox dinner, Connally, Shivers, and Bentsen, chatted on politics. Last week Bentsen lunched with a couple dozen Dallas business and conservative Democratic leaders who want him to run against Yarborough, and he said the meeting was “very encouraging.” But he added, “I have made no decision.” He would want to feel he had “sufficient enthusiastic support to win,” he said. West of the Dallas News voiced what must have been a subject of discussion at the Dallas lunch: the 1964 Republican primary will be held the same day as the Democratic one, and “Bentsen, a conservative, would need every conservative vote to beat Yarborough and would be seriously hurt if 250,000 Texas conservatives decided to vote in the Republican primary instead of for him, and against Yarborough, in the Democratic.” Bentsen says that on his voting record, he would be “a moderate.” Heir of the Valley Bentsens, Bentsen flew 50 missions in Europe and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. After a term as Hidalgo County judge, he went to Congress, where he voted for the repeal of the poll tax, for the Taft-Hartley law, and for curtailing foreign aid. He left Congress in 1954; he is president of Lincoln Liberty Life Insurance Co. in Houston and has received much publicity in that city. He is not known statewide, and prospective backers realize they would have to spend a lot of money selling him. But they have it, or access to it. Those attending the Dallas meeting, for instance, included Dallas County Democratic chairman Lee Smith, Bedford Wynne, state Democratic committeeman John Gray, John Field, Hugh Prather, and Preston Weatherredthe latter gentleman being the one who puts out conservative assays of the legislators’ politics. Bentsen is a personal friend of Johnson, Connally, and Shivers. Johnson, in fact, sought to advance Bentsen’s wife to the Democratic national committeewoman ship at the state Democratic convention of 1956, which chose Mrs. R. D. Randolph of Houston instead. At that time, 5,000 reproductions were circulated of a newspaper clipping quoting Bentsen as of 1952 that he could not support Adlai Stevenson for president because of his position on tidelands. In rejoinder Bentsen granted his enthusiasm for candidates had varied, but insisted he had always voted for the Democratic nominees and that in this particular the clipping was erroneous. THIS WAS the context as Connally moved Scotty Sayers off his own staff onto the state Democratic committee’s, as “director of organization.” Eugene Locke, Connally’s state chairman, said Sayers’ “primary assignment will be that of co-ordinating the efforts of party workers in building an effective Democratic organization throughout the state.” Readers interested in what this change may mean in ideological terms will find it relevant that when Sayers was a member of the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas CIO evaluated his votes as follows : in 1953, 27 votes against the people, none for the people; in 1955, 27 votes against them, two for them. \(Conservative readers Signs of quickening spirit have begun to appear among the conservative Democrats. In San Antonio the Greater Bexar County Committee has been organized, seeking to represent, its statement says, conservatives, moderates, and liberals, and declaring that “due to the political makeup of Bexar County,” the Democratic Party is the vehicle it will use. The San Antonio Express said editorially that these are the conservative and moderate Democrats, and their target is the Democratic Coalition. In the Rio Grande Valley, e3c-state Democratic committeeman Jim Griffin of Mission met with a dozen confreres and announced a concerted campaign to keep conservatives out of the Republican primary \(an amusing up-ending of the loyalists’ long fight to A Conservative Coalition is reported getting started in Waco ; Tom Griffin, Waco businessman, says the Old Frontier Democrats are being formed, with an openly anti-Kennedy message.
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