MARTIN ELFANT Sun Life of Canada 1001 Century Building Houston, Texas CA 4-0686 e~4 Political. Intelligence An Observer staffer scouting in the field came up with widespread skepticism about Lloyd Bentsen’s chances against Sen. Ralph Yarborough. In Corpus Christi a sage political writer said the Bentsen peOple are pipe-dreaming when they talk about Bentsen carrying the Mexican-American voters in the ‘Valley. Some of the long-time liberal Democrats whose memories reach back to the Yarborough campaigns against Gov. Allan Shivers believe several old controversies surrounding the Bentsen family’s wealth and political activities Will, be a factor of some kind. Bentsen’s own wealth and his support from the well-heeled Connally group are counted as factors making him a real challenger, but his unexciting forensic style and his reputation as a somewhat aloof person are counted against his chances. Leslie Carpenter, the Washington columnist whose wife, Liz, was on the Johnson White House staff, speculates that the former president will remain neutral in the senatorial primary, despite the fact that Bentsen is making support of LBJ’s Vietnam policy an important issue in the race. Johnson, according to Carpenter, has permanently excluded himself from internal politics in all 50 states especially Texas. The reporter predicts that the Yarborough-Bentsen contest will become “a political bloodbath.” And he adds, “If the . . . primary is as bitter as veteran Texas political experts think it will be, Bush could very well win in November.” Bentsen has named Austin businessman John Mobley as his campaign manager. Mobley once served as John Connally’s executive assistant. The Fort Worth Star Telegram has endorsed Bentsen in the Democratic primary. The newspaper scored Senator Yarborough, saying he “has exemplified partisanship in place of statesmanship, ultraliberalism in place of the state’s oft-demonstrated preference for moderate-conservatism, vacillation on Vietnam in place of commitment to U.S. responsibilities abroad.” On Vietnam Bentsen and other of Yarborough’s critics are trying to make Vietnam a prime issue in the upcoming campaign. The senior senator’s enemies are playing both sides of the field, criticizing him not only for his doveish tendencies but for his early tacit support of President Johnson’s war policy. announce for reelection after the Yarborough, who was scheduled to Observer went to press, has speculated that Bentsen and Republican senatorial candidate George Bush have “some kind of agreement between them.” Yarborough said recently, “I read in the papers that one of them is Connally’s man and the other is Nixon’s man. Friends in Houston tell me they belong to the same club and spent a lot of time conferring there before they got into the race.” The senator also has charged that Connally, his bitter political , rival, is “running by proxy” in supporting Bentsen. And he says that Bentsen’s father, who owns a string of banks in the Rio Grande Valley, is “putting the squeeze” on influential Texans to support his son. It looks like the beginnings of a vitriolic campaign. Bush says his chances of being elected senator depend heavily upon the “continued popularity” of President Nixon. In the 1964 senate race, Yarborough defeated Bush, a moderate Republican by Texas standards, by 330,000 votes. “This time,” Bush says, “my name is better known and, for better or worse, I have a record to run on. He expects the race to cost more than $1 million. The Austin firm of Collins-Knaggs and Associates will manage his campaign with the advice of Harry Treleaven, the New York adman who helped sell President Nixon to the public last year. Registration Yarborough people continue to . sound doomsday-like when talking about voter registration. Earlier this month Senator Yarborough said that one preliminary estimate he’s heard indicated a registration total of 2.8 million. But Democratic Party officials in Texas say already the’ figure is over 3 million. Yarborough people hope very much that the figure will be at least 4 million. Otherwise, they believe, the senator’s reelection chances will be clouded to the extent the total is below that level. A policy statement from a national voter registration program, “Frontlash-1 970,” on Texas election laws, is of some interest, since Charlotte Roe, executive director of the effort, has been working in Texas voter registration programs. Even today, says this statement, Texas election laws and procedures are “without exception the most restrictive in the United States. “Annual registration is mandated by a provision of [the] state constitution the only requirement of this kind in the country. The registration rolls are open for only four months a year, with the deadline falling on January 31, nine months prior to the general election. . “It is estimated that only 64% of the adult population was registered to vote in the last general elections, giving Texas one of the lowest voter participation rates in the nation. \(It is 45th on the list of The voter registration effort in Texas by Frontlash, funded by foundations and unions, has concentrated in San Antonio, El Paso, and Corpus Christi. Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes’ impending . divorce is not expected to cause him any political problems this year. No Democrat was known to be considering challenging Barnes as this issue went to press. Now that Paul Eggers is in the gubernatorial race for the Republicans, perhaps John Trice, who has said he’d like the GOP nomination, might switch to the lieutenant governor’s race. Trice has been quoted by one Republican as explaining whimsically that he’d have an advantage on the divorce question, since his own divorce occurred a year and a half ago. Eggers Jumps In With assurances from both Sen. John Tower and state GOP chairman William Steger that he will get $1 million or more in campaign funds, Paul Eggers agreed to make a second bid for the governorship. The contest looks like it may be a replay of the 1968 confrontation. Governor Smith says he will follow much the same winning formula lie used two years ago a great deal of hand shaking and reception attending, rather than using the cooler medium of television where he does not come across well. The governor has pledged to continue his “open door” February 6, 1970 13
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