Photograph by Russell Lee President Johnson, Sen, Yarborough YARBOROUGH HIMSELF was pleased as punch. Although he had been in Austin throughout the holidays, apparently he had not been invited to the ranch. A day or so before his Sunday afternoon coffee, he said, he telephoned Bill Moyers and invited the President to drop by. Moyers was not optimistic because the President was scheduled to leave about 1 o’clock Sunday afternoon; the Yarboroughs already had made their plans and could not make the reception earlier. But the President changed his plans and left in the early evening instead of mid-day. Reporters gathered informally in the senator’s newly finished pine-paneled den, \(most of the wall space used for bookHe took it only as a social visit and declined to be drawn into a statement that a presidential endorsement was inferrable. A reporter asked, rather inexactly, whether the senator’s relationship with the President was at an “all-time high.” Thinking as he fielded that one, Yarborough said, “Well, I don’t know, we’ve been pretty close when I was supporting him in some of those hot races.” But as to since Johnson became President, yes, it was an “all-time high.” Bentsen’s announcement came up. “Mr. Bentsen is an attractive and handsome man, and . . . the ablest of the different people who I had heard of who are not now in public office . . . who are not now in the Senate who might run. Naturally I’m glad he’s not running.” Is Sen. Yarborough running? “Well, I have no immediate plans to change occupations,” Yarborough said. Just after Christmas Yarborough met reporters in a downtown hotel suite and discussed the Democratic situation with sometimes surprising candor. At that point he said he felt certain he would have well-backed opposition. At the airport welcoming Germany’s Chancellor Erhard, he said, he had congratulated Connally on being well enough to get around and Mrs. Connally on her “heroic” conduct under the strain. He would not comment on whether Connally was trying to find an opponent for him; but he was sure Johnson would not take part in the primary, because “He’s a very knowledgeable politician, and he’s President of the United States:” Yarborough characterized his relations with Johnson as “very friendly,” and “friendlier than they were, very much so.” Then Yarborough spoke freely of his differences with Johnson when he was vicepresident. “Just speaking very frankly, when he was elected vice-president, he told me the people had elected him senator, too, and they expected him to be senator, too. . . . There was violent disagreement. So naturally we didn’t agree to his position that he was the senior senator from Texas,” Yarborough said. “That situation is over,” he said. “Now that he’s been elected President, I don’t think he’s going to try to be senator, too.” He assumed he would have “normal” patronage prerogatives. The question of patronage from Texas has been “debated very strenuously for two years and eight months,” he recalled. “Vice President Johnson cited over and over to the President [Kennedy] and me what the situation was under Vice-President Garner.” Johnson contended that a vice-president is entitled to the patronage for his state to which the senator or senators of the “in” party would ordinarily be entitled. Yarborough advanced interpretations of the Garner precedents that differed from Johnson’s. “We no longer have that situation. That situation’s changed,” Yarborough said. “That’s all in the past. That’s all in the past. President Johnson is a very energetic man. As vice president there was not enough to keep him busy. As President he has more than enoughhe’s got 114 nations to deal with.” In the context of Yarborough’s patronage in 1965, the senator was asked if he believes Johnson will be President in that year. “Yes, I think he’ll still be President.” Then this question was asked of the senator who did not support Johnson for president in 1960: Did he expect that Johnson would have “any contest for the nomination” this year? He thought a minute. “I don’t think so,” he said. He added : “That’s my present estimate, that he will not have.” ‘ DEMOCRATIC POLITICS in Texas might therefore be very harmonious, indeed, this fall but for the Don Yarborough situation. The idea of the Houston attorney opposing Connally so soon after the governor was shot in the car with President Kennedy so immediately suggests an overwhelming defeat at the polls, few liberals took the possibility seriously the first month after the assassination. However, an odd thing happened at the closed meeting of some members of the steering committee of the Democratic Coalition over the holidays. The Coalition is pledged to Johnson’s election, but has not committed itself on Connally. About 60 people showed up at the meeting in Austin Dec. 28more than had been invited. was for Don Yarborough running, except Roy Evans, speaking for the state labor leadership Evans said that Texas labor was discouraging Don Yarborough from running. All the Coalition leaders of the Negro, Latin-American, and independent liberal “legs” of the Coalition who spoke declared in chorus that Connally should be opposed, and by Don Yarborough. Furthermore, it was argued without audible skepticism, Don Yarborough would win. Even labor’s opposition to the idea was mitigated somewhat when a person who January 10, 1964 3
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.