The Texas Observer June 21, 1968 A Journal of Free Voices A Window to The South 25c John Connally, Favorite Son Dallas The state Democratic convention here had all the majestic dramatic suspense and emotional impact of an exhibition baseball game. Gov . John Connally won absolute control of Texas’ 104 votes at the national convention in Chicago this August. His forces brushed aside the challenge of the liberal minority with consummate ease, a . challenge that was only mildly annoying and which never proved an embarrassment to the governor. So sure were the Connallycrats of their approximate 5-1 superiority in delegate strength over the liberals that they permitted two roll call votes during the day; the first, on the temporary seating of delegates, drew not one opposing vote despite the presence of several contesting liberal delegations; the second, on supporting Connally as favorite son, prevailed by 2,834 3/4 to 4981/4. The liberals came to Dallas spoiling for a fight but uncertain how to go about it. They desperately wanted to embarrass Connally nationally though most of them held no hope of preventing the convention from passing the favorite son resolution. Most sentiment seemed to favor holding a rump convention to name a competing delegation to Chicago. There was talk that the liberals should request a two-week recess in the convention, ostensibly out of respect and ‘grief for the murder of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. This seemed, actually, a maneuver to point out the deep-rooted antipathy the Texas Democratic party’s official hierarchy long had felt for RFK; no liberal expected the two-weeks recess to be granted. Mrs. David Carr, Houston, who became one of the two liberal floor leaders here, urged at a caucus that the liberals request the recess, then, on getting the expected refusal, hold their own convention two weeks later, “certainly not in Dallas,” Mrs. Carr said, since that city was the site of the first Kennedy assassination. “It is imperative we let the people of the United States know there is a liberal movement in the state of Texas that is not in favor of John Connally being wished off on the United States as a favorite son and vice president of the United States,” Mrs. Carr asserted. The liberal caucus was held the night before the convention, at the same time Connally was being honored elsewhere at a $25-a-plate dinner, the proceeds of which would assist his favorite son campaign. The room at the Baker hotel in which the caucus was held was an uncomfortable spot for the meeting; the air conditioning gave out on a very warm night, the microphone didn’t work, and there wasn’t enough room for all to sit. These inconveniences, as the evening wore on, contributed to the foul mood of those attending the caucus. But probably even in ideal conditions tempers would have been as ragged, so keen was the mood of frustration that most at the caucus seemed to feel; frustration born, it appeared, of the inability most liberals here evidently felt to do anything about fighting Connally. Forty-five minutes were required to elect a chairman. Ed Cogburn, Houston, finally was selected. The question then turned to requesting a two-week recess of the convention the next day. After a good deal of wrangling, some of it not devoted specifically to the issue at hand, the motion was carried by a narrow 79-71. Another motion was passed by unanimous voice vote, after some more extended and bitter debate, to “support the contested liberal delegations.” This referred to competing delegations liberals had sent from 14 counties, only one of which, from El Paso, had been favored earlier that day by the credentials committee. There was no discussion as to specific steps to implement the caucus’ motion of support. To lead the anticipated rump the caucus chose Mrs. Carr and Lee Smith, El Paso, to devise strategy for the following day. THE NEXT DAY the convention opened with the usual ceremonies and, as has become usual for Texas Democratic meetings of all sorts, amidst rumors that President Johnson might show up. He did not. The nature of things was a visible phenomenon; slickly-done Connally-for-president signs were available to delegates and spectators at all entrances to the auditorium and were being displayed by a large number of delegates on the floor. Liberals, seated mostly at the rear of the auditorium and in the balcony by those who were in control of the convention, contented themselves with pasting Eugene McCarthy bumperstickers on their Connally placards. National committeeman Frank Erwin, Jr., seemed a bit disturbed by the presence of the few impromptu McCarthy signs on the floor. Going up to the Denton county delegation, which was displaying two of the signs, Erwin deter mined that the delegation had its alternates seated with them. They were banished by a sergeant-at-arms to the balcony where alternates were supposed to be seated. As the formalities droned on Mrs. Carr told the Observer that “We’ll stay awhile so all can get a taste of this. The real issue is the delegation to Chicago.” She said a possible way of contesting the delegation the conservatives would send would be to point out that they were to be chosen by state senatorial districts, rather than congressional districts. The Observer is uncertain at this point whether the matter Mrs. Carr referred to is one of federal law or a national Democratic party regulation. She also said that the unit rule, which gives the majority absolute control, may be taken to court; that San Antonio attorney Maury Maverick, Jr., had done some legal research into the question based largely on the theory that the US Supreme Court’s one-man, one-vote decision should be extended to include party convention delegations; that is, that delegations should be apportioned between competing .blocs rather than letting the majority have all the strength. “We’ll probably walk out on the resolutions committee’s report on the unit rule,” Mrs. Carr said. As the convention dragged into the early afternoon liberals began to suspect that they were being filibustered. “They’re dragging this, I think, because people have to check out of their rooms soon,” said Don Allford, Austin, the state . McCarthy campaign leader. He said he has hopes that a liberal delegation can be seated at Chicago. “I think it’s important to send a competing delegation to Chicago,” Allford said, “to show that the delegation that will be chosen here today [by conservatives] is not chosen in a manner that reflects the will of the party. And certainly John Connally should not have the delegation to bargain with.” The liberals grew more and more restive, some of them wanting to leave at once but Mrs. Carr said, “We have no legal reason to leave now,” that is, no basis on which to make a contest at Chicago. ABOUT THIS TIME Erwin began looking for Allford, thinking that Allford was heading the liberal forces at the convention. He found Tom Gresham, Waco, an Allford associate in the McCarthy effort, and began a conversation
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