Temporarily impressed with the need for organization, Rayburn agreed to sponsor a continuing operation after election day. That day came and passed; Texas had gone Republican. In January, 1953, when the file’s for a loyal Democratic Party operation were still being withheld from those who wanted to get it started, Rayburn was visited in Washington by spokesmen for the county managers to whom the files had been promised. He said the files would be available when he was convinced that organization would be timely; that tact and judgment must be used to win over influential persons who had left the party; and that organizing effort would not succeed until he was ready to sponsor it. Then began the organizing effort, without Rayburn. In May, 1953, Creekmore Fath of Austin, who had served on the staff of the Democratic National Committee; D. Roy Harrington, then secretary of the Texas C.I.O.; Minnie Fisher Cunningham of New Waverly, dean of Texas rural liberals; Walter Hall, Galveston County banker; plaintiffs’ lawyers Franklin Jones of Marshall, Edwin Smith of Houston, and Jack Carter of Fort Worth; labor lawyers Robert Eckhardt of Houston and Otto Mullinax and L.N.D. Wells, Jr., both of Dallas; former congressman Maverick of San Antonio; union staff members Ross MatheOs and Paul Gray, of Fort Worth and Don Ellinger of Dallas; and determined women like Frankie Randolph of Houston, Jean Lee of Austin, and Kathleen Voigt of San Antonio gathered the faithful from the Stevenson campaign for a weekend session at Buchanan Dam, a Hill County conservation and hydroelectric power project that had been sponsored by a young congressman named Lyndon Johnson and named for the congressman he had served as secretary. An astonishing number of seasoned campaigners checked into the fishing camps that dot the surrounding hills and gathered in the lodge at the damsite. There was a respectable sprinkling of elected officials. Byron Skelton of Temple; Lillian Collier, a sophisticated Central Texas cotton farmer; and Fath were elected officers of the Democratic Organizing Committee \(the Within a year -sufficient progress had been made in almost all the state’s 31 senatorial districts to leave Speaker Rayburn feeling like a leader whose followers had surged ahead of him. He put himself at the head of the column by directing the board to transform the organization into the Democratic Advisory Council, \(the by appointment of the Democratic national stood, with Speaker Rayburn. This change was effected at a little publicized meeting at Skelton’s cottage on the Nolan River near Salado, in Central Texas. All the existing leaders were confirmed except Fath, who was replaced by Mrs. Voigt. \(Fath’s senatorial district promptly resubmitted his name as their representative on the about a year no significant organizing activity took place at the state level. But Frankie Randolph went right on organizing Houston. Other urban counties tried to follow the example of her Harris County Democrats. Lyndon Johnson, convinced that his presidential ambitions would never be taken seriously until he had attended at least one national convention in the company of loyal Texas Democrats, joined Speaker Rayburn as a standard bearer for the campaign to win the 1956 “president’s” convention from the Shivers forces. The state convention was won with the organized strength of dependable Democrats, and a successful organized campaign was made to send to the Democratic national convention a delegation composed entirely of Democrats who would return to Texas and support the nominees of that convention. The incentive for achieving this objective was Johnson’s; the organization was not. In 1956, the shift of population to the cities had gone even further. Out of a total of 254 counties, a majority of the poll tax payers lived in the largest thirteen. Rayburn and Johnson had not reckoned with the potential in organized strength. The organized upstarts not only insisted on having each district name its own delegates to the national convention ; they actually believed the notation on the convention agenda that the incoming national committeeman and national committeewoman would be elected by the convention. And, for a crowning impertinence, they proposed to take responsibility for the coming presidential campaign away from the state executive committee that consisted largely of holdovers from the one that had joined the Republicans in 1952, and to elect persons of unquestioned loyalty to the Democratic Party to replace them. That this was a violation of custom no one denied: it seemed to some that a breach of custom was in order. On the third point Rayburn and Johnson were able, by a public and personal appeal, to avert a rather unceremonious shift of responsibility for the presidential campaign to the hands of people who wanted it to succeed. \(Johnson’s timetable called for a serious presidential campaign in 1960, not the organized yokels were able to insist. The congressional leaders were not allowed to handpick the members of the national committee: the convention elected Skelton and Mrs. Randolph. With the exception of three individuals, district delegations to the national convention were chosen by their district caucuses; congressional cronies were confined to the list of delegates at large to the national convention. So Johnson returned to Washington, announcing in a press conference at the 12 The Texas Observer chairman, after clearance, it was under AMERICAN INCOME LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF INDIANA Underwriters of the American Income Labor Disability Policy Executive Offices: P. 0. Box 208 Waco, Texas Bernard Rapoport, President
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