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A Little Sampler of Unusual Tactics Austin It happens in every political campaign: the episodes which the CIA would call “black operations” or the military, “unconventional warfare.” A group of workers in liberal campaigns across the state met in Austin last week to assess what had happened, and the reports heard at that meeting included the interesting tactics listed below, related to the Observer ‘as having happened in the May 7 primary elections. A primarily Latin precinct in San Antonio. The line at the polling place is long, reaching outside the building. Two men pull up in a shiny, black car with radio equipment. They wear Khaki uniforms, western hats, and boots, but they have no guns or badges, and the car is unmarked. One gets out, and says in a stern voice to the waiting crowd, “All of you with those free voting certificates or with slate cards, get over ‘here in another line. We’re going to check for these cards and these fraudulent voter registrations.” After the line has formed, the man who remained in the car turns up the radio and shouts to his buddy that there is trouble elsewhere. As they pull away, they warn them to stay put, but the car never returns. Up to 70 voters reportedly got into the line at one precinct, and ten such cars were reported in operation election day. In a Walker County precinct domi nated by Negroes, word went through the community two days before the election that there would be “trouble at the voting place.” Extra police patrols were reported in the Negro neighborhood for two days before the election. Negro voting was light, and no “trouble” materialized. In Polk County, a telephone call started the story through a Negro housing project that the FBI was in the area, looking for “illegal” sample ballots and slate cards, which, if found on a voter, would be ground’s for arrest. Such ballots and slate cards were destroyed in some cases, and Negro turnout was lighter than forecast. In a far South Texas city where stoop laborers had been getting 25 cents a bushel for picking onions, the per bushel wage rose to $2 on May 7, helped along by five days of rain which had ‘stalled the ‘harvest, although election-day overtime has been a tradition in some areas. The ‘buses came for the workers at 7 a.m. and returned them at 7 p.m. In Gaines County, a liberal campaigner polled Negroes on why they didn’t vote, if they didn’t. Most he asked hadn’t, and explained that the word had come, starting from white employers, that there was no secret to the secret ballot, and that the wrong vote, or any vote, might get them “in trouble.” 0 whatever the press wanted them to be. One local reporter interviewed all candidates in all races and presumably asked everyone the same questions. In my race, the “issues” were’ liquor by the drink and parimutuel betting. There was no way he could fairly quote what I said about 14-B without educating the public in regard to what the so-called right-to-work law really is, so he didn’t print what I said. In another race, the “issue” was the repeal of the right-to-work law and in still another, education, and so on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. The’real issue, representative government, never was touched upon. Abraham Lincoln was right. Don’t run for the legislature on the issues, just run. I learned the value of a name and of the ballot position. The name is the thing in Tarrant County. We have two members with the same surname, an old Tarrant County name, and we have one member who was a long-time sports announcer. In the areas of names and ballot position, I fared badly. I was running against an old Tarrant County political name and against the namesake of a former member of FDR’s cabinet. To add to my woe, I drew the middle spot on the ballot. I had noticed a gleam in the eye of the executive.conimittee parliamentarian the night we drew for places, and now I realize the significance of that gleam. We drew little black balls with numbers, and the man with the lowest number was first on the ballot; I drew number 13. THE FUNNIEST things happened while some of us were on our way to Austin. There was the “minister” who collected money from candidates for an ad in a “Youth for Christ” souvenir program. Neither Christ nor my ad appeared. There was the stalwart incumbent who took a public stand in favor of capital punishment, and then said, “But my mind can be changed.” There was the secret screening session held by some of our governor’s Negro supporters. There was the embarrassed incumbent who said that he was a bachelor and, therefore, “could not brag about any children I might ‘have.” But some of the things that happened were not so funny. I remember the smearsheet mailings. Labor was split, with the UAWCC and COPE making different endorsements in some of the races. One brave group, apparently ‘backing a UAW candidate, made a mailing to conservative precincts which pointed out that his opponent was “backed by Central Labor,” that is, COPE. There was the cowardly reporter who waited until May 6 to call me a “liberal” in his evening paper. There were unusual things election day. My wife heard an election official in my precinct, a conservative precinct, say, “Of course, I can’t tell you how to vote, but this is the conservative, this is the liberal and this is the middle-of-the-roader.” In a predominantly Negro precinct where my brother was a pollwatcher, some of the people could not read, so the election judge simply helped them do their voting, and it’s not improbable that he managed to help his man where he could. There were the high-priced newspaper ads and the high-priced radio spots. For some reason, contrary to democracy and its spirits, our publishers seem to prey on candidates, for political rates are roughly double regular ad rates. There were early rumors that you had to spend $17,000 to $40,000 to be in the running, but it seemed that these rumors were coming from the public relations firms. Starting out, I thought our party was split on a liberal-conservative basis. I knew that we didn’t have a two-party system, but later in the campaign, I began to think of it as a lobby-labor fight, with both sides choosing and backing candidates. Now, I know I was wrong on all counts, and that it is a battle for democracy and representative government with the people losing the battle. The people don’t choose. The lobbies and special interest groups choose the candidates, decide the issues, and run the campaigns and elections. The people hear only what these groups want them to hear, unless we are lucky enough to have that rare candidate who can run with enough money to buy a forum. I believe that this is a bad thing for democracy, and that the citizen is not necessarily to blame. How can he be blamed for being apathetic over a campaign the media choose to ignore? We can blame the press. The press can cause interest in elections. This was ably demonstrated by the Fort Worth newspapers in our recent city referendum on urban renewal. In that election, we had approximately 38,000 property owners turn out, yet, the primary election did not draw 50,000 voters in Tarrant County. What did I learn? I have an old conservative friend who says he already has proved that a “one-armed man can’t beat a one-legged man in Tarrant county.” I guess I’ve proved that a former under secretary of War can’t beat a former secretary of State in Tarrant County \(he man named Cordell Hull won the election I was I learned that labor and the liberals can’t be counted on always to vote. This should not be. Good Democrats should be able to give up 30 minutes of leisure to drop by the polls. The hard-working liberal and labor people who help candidates during campaigns are the real defenders of the faith impractical politics, but I do mean to slight the Democrat who didn’t vote May 7. The only way he can vindicate himself is to work now and vote June 4. And I think my most valuable lesson is this: with the shoddy treatment afforded liberal and moderate candidates this spring, why cooperate in November? Gordon Gray 4111111i May 27, 1966 9