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La Raza survives in Hidalgo By David Giffey McAllen Hidalgo County’s La Raza Unida, the sole third-party survivor in Texas, appears headed for its first Rio Grande Valley showdown with establishment politics Nov. 3. For the time being, due to a smokescreen of legal reverses, Hidalgo County’s ballot apparently will be the only one in the state bearing the name of a La Raza Unida candidate. And there were moments when even that seemed unlikely. As late as Oct 13, the eve of absentee voting, lame duck County Judge Milton D. Richardson instructed his county clerk, Santos Saldaria, to drop La Raza Unida from the ballot. Local news media pounced gleefully on Richardson’s long-delayed and questionnable decision even as the judge was being threatened with a federal restraining order. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE Reynaldo Garza of Brownsville informed Richardson that a restraining order would be imposed if La Raza Unida was not given a spot on the ballot. Richardson capitulated, whereupon another letter was written to Mr. Giffey is editor of i Ya Mero! , a Spanish-language newspaper published in McA lien. 16 The Texas Observer clerk Saldaria instructing the inclusion of La Raza Unida on the ballot. “This is to authorize you to leave the third party, La Raza Unichz, as you now have it on the ballot,” said Richardson’s letter number two. “I was waiting to make a final decision . . . since the decision of higher courts \(Texas Supreme Court Sept. 29, other counties in the state.” Richardson still could assume the burden of risking federal restraint by erasing La Raza Unida before election day, but the legal hassle would be considerable if not prohibitive, according to the party’s Hidalgo County counsel, David Hall. The campaign pace picked up noticeably after La Raza Unida backers found themselves with something tangible to. back. They and their lone candidate, Alejandro Moreno, for weeks had moderated their efforts in accordance with the political limbo about them. The day after Richardson’s capitulation, however, party workers reported stepped-up activity and new offers of aid for Moreno’s bid to unseat Precinct Two County Commissioner Charles Curtis. To some chicanos official recognition of La Raza Unida in Hidalgo County represents nothing more than luck. Judge Garza’s threat of a restraining order certainly helped. So did the organizers’ attempts in building La Raza’s framework in Hidalgo to follow to the letter that quicksilver tangle of words called the Texas Election Code. Some political observers have suggested that the third party was not included on Zavala, Dimmit, and La Salle ballots because its victory in those places seemed imminent. With this suspicion in mind, some thought is being given. to launching an election boycott, urging voters sympathetic to the party to write in La Raza Unida in those places where the party was brushed off the ballot. PARTY WORKERS in Hidalgo County now are optimistic about La Raza’s chances. The precinct in question includes the cities of McAllen, Pharr, San Juan, Alamo, and Hidalgo. Estimates place its Mexican-American population at more than 55%. About one-half of the 23,000 registered can be expected to vote. Republicans and Democrats, often barely distinguishable, will gather their numbers about them so that an estimated 5,000 voters may be a number sufficient to elect Moreno. Moreno’s campaign is restricted by a shortage of cash. But the silk-screened posters of La Raza Unida are gaining prime spots in many chicano business places. They aren’t as flashy as the day-glow orange of Lloyd Bentsen’s billboards to be sure. Nor was Moreno’s modest $1.25-a-plate barbecue in San Juan last Bush’s super-affair planned for Sunday persons are expected to eat the candidate’s food . . . gratis. However, there are obvious factors on Moreno’s side. For one, he is a Mexican-American, fluent in Spanish. Anglo candidates have had problems identifying with chicano voters in the Valley during their campOgns. Bentsen, who lost the primary, in this, his home county, used bumper stickers during that race which were widely ridiculed by chicanos. They read: “Bentsen for SenatorSi!” It was proposed by a La Raza Unida pundit that Moreno’s stickers read: “Alejandro Moreno para ComisionadoYes!” La Raza Unida faithful insist that there are ways of winning in this land of customary mug-wumping and muck farming that might land 23-year-old Moreno a seat on the county commissioners court. They have about two weeks left to prove it. La Raza Unida, in court, did not fare too well recently around the state. But that fact just might have heightened its chances for success in Hidalgo County voting booths. While it would be an exaggeration to say that the party’s future lies with election returns in Hidalgo County, a victory here certainly might provide staying power for the party. ALL-TEXAS ANTIWAR DEMONSTRATION The Texas October 31 Antiwar Coalition, composed of antiwar activists and organizations throughout Texas, calls for a regional antiwar demonstration. March Assemble at 1:00 p.m., University of Texas, West Mall, 2200 block of Guadalupe Street, Austin Rally State Capitol grounds, Austin Please send me leaflets for distribution. $ enclosed. \(250 leaflets for $1; 500 leaflets for $2; this covers the cost of materials and I have enclosed a-contribution for the October 31 demonstration. I want to help build October 31, please contact me. I can help with transportation to Austin. Name Address City Zip Phone Mail to: Houston Committee to end the War in Vietnam, Box 1811,