Dems meet with lobbyists Gov. Preston Smith, Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, and House Speaker Gus Mutscher sent telegrams to about 100 members of the state business lobby asking them to a meeting Oct. 3 in the Colonnade Room at the Commodore Perry Hotel in Austin. The message delivered to the lobbyists at that meeting was about as subtle as Raquel Welch. Smith ran down a list of Republican measures that have troubled Texas businessmen \(the cut in the oil depletion then ran down his own political problems. “You know we have a tradition in Texas of light turnouts in off-year elections. And I believe the Republicans have 700,000 or 800,000 votes. Now I will tell you gentlemen something you may not believe and this is that you here in this room are the most influential people in the state .. . in terms of getting out the vote. You have the time and the money and the organization and you can do it. “I know you’ve helped us in the past and I hope you will again. And you know how much I’ve enjoyed working with you and you know that anytime you need help you can come to the governor’s office. We’re only as far away as the telephone.” Scratch, scratch, scratch. Smith & Eggers Governor Smith is making claims of interest in a re-election advertisement in Texas newspapers. The ad says “The poverty rate in Texas is dropping at twice the national rate” and also asserts, somewhat vaguely, that the Smith administration “has kept Texas’ percentage of tax burden swinging downward while, in other states, the average tax burden has increased.” His opponent, Republican Paul Eggers, has made a substantively interesting statement on the latter topic. He declares that he will, as governor, refuse to get trapped between higher sales taxing and a personal income tax; he will veto unnecessary spending programs, he says. Attorneys for La Raza Unida, seeking to get the third party on the ballot in various local procedural snarls, regard the effort, even when unsuccessful \(as it was as of Sept. 29 as to Dimmit, prefatory legal work for 1972. The controlling statute, difficult to interpret, is being made more explicit each time a court writes on it. Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes opened his re-election campaign in McAllen last week with a blast against a two-party system for Texas. Barnes said the one-party Political intelligence . Democratic monopoly had worked well in Texas and criticized what he called the “spoils system” in such two-party states as New York, California, and Illinois. He suggested a two-party system would mean higher taxes in Texas. Barnes’ opponent, UT law professor Byron Fullerton, is attempting to tie the sales tax on groceries, debated in the last legislature, around Barnes’ neck. The Republican candidate said Barnes directed passage of the food tax in the state Senate. He also predicted Barnes and his associates were laying groundwork for a state income tax. Barnes gets office The Democratic nominee for State Land Commissioner, Rep. Bob Armstrong of Austin, has turned over his state campaign offices to Barnes, to use in the Barnes campaign. Armstrong vacated the building and will run a limited fall campaign from his law office in downtown Austin. He is considered a shoo-in over his Republican opponent. Senator Yarborough’s office has sent out a four-page mailing privately financed to some 4,000 Baptist ministers around the state refuting Lloyd Bentsen’s spring campaign charge that Yarborough voted against school prayer when he opposed the Dirksen constitutional amendment. He calls the Bentsen charge “a base falsehood,” and observes: “Had there been any merit in this claim my opponent would not have waited until the last nine days of the campaign to spring this vicious untruthful attack.” Yarborough is a Baptist. Predictions Dallas Times Herald columnist Ernest Stromberger predicts that unless the November election turnout exceeds two million votes, which he terms “the fail-safe point,” GOP candidates Bush and Paul Eggers probably will win. Slightly over 1.6 million voted in the two party primaries last May. Stromberger says Bentsen-Smith promoters must look to turn out as many as 700,000 voters who did not participate in the primaries if they are to overcome lethargy and stay-at-home protests by Yarborough Democrats and still get enough Democratic votes to win. The columnist said the Democratic tradition of high turnouts in November appears to be faltering because “their candidates are unable to arouse the electorate.” To make up the difference, Bentsen and Smith are looking to black precincts. Sthith is buying hundreds of radio spots on black stations in Houston, Dallas, and elsewhere for the final days of the campaign, while , Bentsen and, Smith supporters in the Worth orth area are attempting to assemble paid bloc worker teams in Negro areas. Contrary to Stromberger’s predictions, many political prognosticators believe Smith and Bentsen will win, if for no other reason than a majority of Texas voters habitually vote Democratic. On Oct. 4 The Houston Chronicle released a statewide poll that shows Smith and Bentsen ahead of their Republican opponents Eggers and U.S. Rep. George Bush by narrow margins. The senate race will be closest, according to the usually accurate Chronicle poll, with Bentsen leading Bush 51.6% to 48.4%. Smith’s indicated margin is 54-46. Austin will be the scene Oct. 31 of an anti-war march sponsored by the National Peace Action Coalition. Nine other U.S. cities are scheduled to have mass actions that day. Abortion lobby Plans for a demonstration in support of legalized abortions when the Texas Legislature convenes in January were announced at the first statewide conference on women’s liberation recently. The 200-plus women who attended the conference also agreed to hold a conference on abortion in November. United Farm Workers Organizing Committee activity in the Starr County area seems to be picking up, three years after the shutdown of the ill-fated melon strike of 1966-67. Organizer Antonio Orendain reports the union has authorization cards from a “substantial number” of La Casita Farms employees, and the union is’ reported to have notified ranch manager Ray Rochester they are anxious to open negotiations on a recognition procedure. Hardin Farms, the California outfit that owns La Casita, has its own hands full at home, with a UFWOC strike led by Cesar Chavez seriously cutting into their fall harvest. Meanwhile, in Starr County, 22 county officials, many of whom were active in strike-breaking activities three years ago, are under indictment for fraudulent voting practices during the May primary. What . with Hardin’s difficulties, the federal indictments, and the impending retirement October 16, 1970 9
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