OBSERVER. p r 4 A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South Emni May 15, 1970 The Yarborough defeat Anti-nigger, anti-Mexican, anti-youth Austin, Houston The reasons for Sen. Ralph Yarborough’s defeat at the hands of Lloyd Bentsen, Jr., in the Democratic primary are multiple and complex. Maury Maverick, Jr., summed up many liberals’ feelings on the election when he said, “It was anti-nigger, anti-Mexican, anti-youth, and sock-it-to-’em in Vietnam.” The day after the primary, Yarborough and Bentsen agreed that the decisive issues were government spending, busing, law and order, and Yarborough’s votes against Carswell and Haynesworth. Yarborough said that during the last few days of the campaign, Bentsen’s charge that he had voted against a resolution to allow prayers in public schools hurt him more than all other issues combined. The Yarborough staff thought Bentsen’s advertisements asking Yarborough, “What’s wrong with prayer?” were so damaging that they hurried the senator into a television studio at 9:30 p.m., the night before the primary, to tape a response. On television spots in Austin, San Antonio, and Waco, Yarborough explained his position on prayer and pointed out that almost every church group in the state had endorsed his vote against the bill in question. Reflecting on Bentsen’s campaign, Yarborough said, “Anybody who lays five to ten million dollars on the line and organizes his campaign this skillfully can win. They did a smart job. They were taking polls every few days and everything they ran across that was unpopular with people, they’d put on TV. They’d dredge up one thing like Carswell and drum on it for three or four days, and by the time we’d swing into position to answer it, they’d immediately jump into something else, like busing.” \(The senator said he voted against compulsory school busing but that one day he missed a Saturday, vote Photo by Larry Murphy Ralph Yarborough that came up unexpectedly. Bentsen accused Yarborough of running out on the “When [your opponents] take a big lie technique . . . a new one every few days, you’re put on the defensive,” Yarborough explained. He said the primary was a repeat of his 1954 campaign for governor. Bentsen used the same public relations firm used to produce “The Port Arthur Story” in 1954. The film, which was shown on television and at political meetings, linked Yarborough to a strike in Port Arthur, which the filmmakers said was communist-influenced. It showed empty city streets and implied that the citizenry of Port Arthur was so scared by the strike that no one dared to come outdoors. \(It was later learned that the streets were empty because they had been filmed very YARBOROUGH’S MEDIA people say he spent $250,000 on radio and television advertisements. “Our budget was thin, spelled THIN,” Yarborough aide Larry Goodwyn emphasized. The television spots were shown with frequency only in the last week of the campaign. No funds were expended on outdoor advertising. Bentsen has not said how much money hs spent. Yarborough staff members insist he must have invested at least a million dollars in radio and television. In addition to that, Bentsen’s billboards were seen almost cheek to cheek throughout the state. The most controversial of Bentsen’s advertisements showed film clips of violent demonstrations in Chicago and Washington. “Violence-60” begins with approximately 15 seconds of the sounds of violence screaming, people running in the night along city streets. Then Bentsen’s voice says, “That was the violence in Chicago spawned by supporters of Eugene McCarthy during the Democratic convention. Sen. Ralph Yarborough endorsed McCarthy for president. Did he represent your views when he backed McCarthy?” There are more sounds of violence the noise of sirens, people yelling as the film shows flames shooting out of the second-story of some buildings. Bentsen’s voice continues: “That was violence in Washington during the
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