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The Texas Observer MAY 27, 1966 A Journal of Free Voices A Window to The South 25c San Antonio Liberalism: Piecing It Together San Antonio The Democratic Coalition in San Antonio, one of the main foundations of liberalism in Texas, was wiped out in the spring voting. Drifting through the ruins here, one finds small groups at cafe tables, around desks in offices, in living rooms, criticizing each other and accepting criticism quietly and contritely. It’s a scene of mass flagellation. Thursday night of last week about 250 of the survivors started again as the Bexar County National Democrats, resolving to organize neighborhood precinct clubs on the model of the California Democratic Council and to recover what they can from the debris in the June 4 runoff. But the leaders of the Coalition know that somewhere along the line they lost contact with the people they thought they represented, especially the Latin-Americans on the West Side, who are only somewhat less than half the people of the city. The principal event of the campaign against the Coalition’s local “lead horse,” Cty. Judge Charles Grace, was a “pseudoevent,” a television program, but by the time this 30-minute, highly professional, documentary-type spook show had been played at least eight or nineand one report says seventeentimes, its effects on the voters were anything but pseudo. Grace and his compadre on the county commissioners’ court, PASO chieftain Albert Pena, were presented as evil men whose motives are to grab all the power in sight, over the city, the schools, the water board, everything. A statement made by Texas AFL-CIO President Hank Brown at a union organizing conference in San Antonio, “If necessary I’m gonna scream and holler and lie and cheat until we get was wrapped around Grace and Pena; “lie and cheat” was a pervasive theme of the program as Cmsr. Pena was shown whispering in Judge Grace’s ear. A dark hand was shown descending from the sky upon the fair and peaceful city. The depth of the resentment the film caused among liberals can be measured by the remark of Maury Maverick, Jr., liberal attorney, that it was “worse than the Port Arthur story.” A spokesman for the winners, the Good Government League, who said he saw the film “many times,” granted he thought it was heavy and might cause some sympathy for Grace, and that others he knew thought this, too. But, he volunteered, \(thinking himself of the comparison with the 1954 story about a Port Arthur strike with which Gov. Allan Shivers dethe “black hand” show was “much more accurate” than the Port Arthur story. The anti-Grace program was prepared by a ‘San Francisco public-relations man, Jack Burney, who has since returned to California. ALTHOUGH THE LOSERS in San Antonio this spring see the matter as the bad guys defeating the good guys, you can’t follow the game without a program. The teams were, all grant, the Democratic Coalition vs. the Good Government League. Technically the G.G.L. concerns itself only with controlling the city council and the city government, which it does control, but in fact G.G.L. leaders this spring masterminded and financed the anti-Grace campaign. There the jungle begins. People in the Coalition acknowledge, for instance, that they were backing fewer Latin-Americans for office this spring than the G.G.L. was. G.G.L. liberalsWho say that the San Antonio outcome cannot be seen in terms of “liberal” and “conservative” because they are liberals, and they won with G.G.L. point out that in some cases the Coalition was backing candidates more conservative than the G.G.L.’s. An example was the State Senate contest between Rep. Joe Bernal and David Carter. Bernal is a G.G.L. Latin-American who voted “right,” 16-2, on the labor legislative scorecard in 1965 but who actively campaigned against Pena’s re-election two years ago. Carter is a Coalition Anglo moderate who is the son-in-law of H. B. Zachry, the anti-union conservative construction magnate; in this connection Carter is thought to be probably less liberal than Bernal on issues. The Coalition, believing that Bernal’s election would be “a spear in Pena’s guts” \(to use al swept into office, winning the West Side about three to one, and it is this fact as much as any other that has shaken Pena’s status as a liberal jefe and convinced him and everyone else that ‘he faces a hard race if he stands for re-election two years from now. Whether he does, Pena told the Observer, depends in part on how Rep. John Alaniz does in the runoff. Alaniz is the Coalition’s candidate for county commissioner. Named as “a Pena lieutenant” in the spook TV show, Alaniz ran behind the incumbent, commissioner, 0. L. Wurzbach, about 15 to 11, and barely made the runoff. While Alaniz, too carried the West Side precincts he ran in by margins of around three to one, the turnout in those precincts was not appreciably higher than in other parts of the West Side. If Alaniz wins, Pena will still be in a 3-2 majority on the county court, but if Alaniz loses, Pena would be a militant liberal loner there again, as he was at the first. Grace lost by about 12,000 votes out of 70,000 cast to Blair “Bruzzie” Reeves, a law partner of County Democratic Chairman John Daniels, who is identified with G.G.L. Reeves ran before for justice of the peace, but lost to a Republican, and was once the liberals’ candidate for county clerk, but ran third. A Marine hero whose war wounds mean that he cannot walk, Reeves was one of the actors in the 30minute TV show that helped do Grace in. senator from San Antonio with a curious blend of support that included \(after initial connections with Gov. John Connallly, too, and is of course a favorite with beer, liquor, and horse racing interests. Rep. Glenn Kothmann, a Coalition-backed candidate for district clerk, was expected to win, but lost by less than 200 votes in the anti-Grace trend. Even Cty. Clerk Jimmy Knight, who did not have serious opposition, received a large anti vote. Just three representatives sought re-election, Rep. Jake Johnson, who had no opposition ; Rep. Bob Vale, originally the Coalition’s Senate prospect against Bernal, who dropped out of the race and won re-election after a campaign as rather more of a moderate than he had been thought to be; and Rep. Tom Lee. Behind Lee’s defeat there lies a tale. Lee is Chinese-American. A Chinese boy was murdered in San Antonio, allegedly by a Negro boy, and Lee publicly offered a