It’s still a Democratic state Approximately 300,000 more voters than the political savants had predicted went to the polls Nov. 3. The surprisingly large turnout apparently was encouraged by the appearances of President Nixon and Vice-President Agnew, the presence on the ballot of the liquor-by-the-drink amendment and Amendment Three, as well as the balmy election-day weather. The possibility that Nixnew turned out the vote for the Democrats was one of the ironies of the Senate race. Senator-elect Lloyd Bentsen, Jr., cashed in on the feelings of many Texans that the national Republican hierarchy was butting into a local fight for nefariously partisan reasons. The heavily-attended Republican rallies reminded the state’s voters that it was an election year. Only when the voters went to the polls, they voted the way they always have Democratic. Liberals repelled Apparently, many liberals who considered voting Republican were turned off by Nixon’s and Agnew’s appearances, especially Nixon’s comments against bussing in Longview, two days after two men had been found guilty of bombing the entire Longview fleet of school busses. A majority of Texas editors polled shortly before the election predicted that Bentsen would win. During the last week of the campaign, however, many state capitol reporters were saying and many syndicated columnists were writing that Republican George Bush would take the race. Bush seemed to be a favorite of the national press. David Broder, the highly respected Washington Post political writer, went so far as to predict that if Bush were elected, the president would dump Agnew and make Bush his running mate ih 1972. Broder attributed the story to “men intimately involved in White House political operations.” The story sounded like something dreamed up by Bush’s campaign staff, but the New Republic’s Newsweek and T.R.B., N.R.’s front-line columnist, also found the story credible. At any rate, the rumor did not seem to help Bush much. Some writers speculated that the possibility of Bush’s replacing Agnew might have lost Bush votes in West and deep East Texas. Fred Bonavita, a Houston Post Washington reporter, writes that Nixon is thinking of Bush as a possible successor to Treasury Secretary David Kennedy. Political intelligence Richard Morehead of the Dallas Morning News says that “unless George Bush runs for governor in 1972, Texas Republicans have a rather bleak outlook.” Bush, however, has never shown any interest in the governorship. Some persons have commented that Bush should run as a reform mayor for Houston next fall, in order to keep himself in the news and to stay in the running for vice-president in ’72. Bentsen led in 227 of the state’s 254 counties. Bush took Dallas County by approximately 25,000 votes and Harris County by 70,000. Dallas and Harris counties could not make up the losses Bush took in rural areas and small towns, but the two major population centers did manage to pass the liquor-by-the-drink amendment. Republican State Chairman William Steger attributed Bush’s loss partially to the high turnout in rural areas. “More than 200 counties voted against the liquor proposal,” he said. Despite warnings by La Raza Unida that Mexican-Americans can no longer be considered Democrats, Bentsen won the heavily latino sections of the state. San Antonio gave him a healthy majority.. He took his native South Texas as well, although Bush ran stronger there than any Republican ever has, except John Tower in 1966. Bush got 49.4% in 53 South Texas counties. Tower won by 55.3% over Waggoner Carr in ’66. Bentsen wants unity Bentsen says he has been and will be a unifying force in the Democratic Party. He says he could not have been elected without support from people who voted for Yarborough in the Democratic primary. The Senator-elect said he will align himself with the moderate wing of the national party. Despite the tremendous efforts the White House put into the Bush campaign, the Republicans, Agnew in particular, claimed Bentsen’s election as a definite plus for their side in getting a “working majority” in the Senate. Democrat Committee Chairman Lawrence O’Brien answered that Agnew’s comment was part of the “strangest hodge-podge of post-election analysis” he had ever heard. Bentsen, who declined to make public a list of his financial holdings during the campaign, says he will release such a list in January when he assumes office and not before. His reticence to discuss his fortune was mentioned in an article written for the San Antonio Express by Clyde Walter, a former Bentsen aide. Walter points out that Bentsen quietly resigned from the boards of five corporations when he decided to run for office \(Obs., assembled campaign staff, eager to latch onto newspaper column inches, wanted to make the resignations the subject of a news release,”‘ Walter wrote. Bentsen refused, telling his staff instead to have the list ready if any reporters asked for it. “At first nobody asked, much to the staffer’s frustration, and when the request did come it was from a publication unfriendly to the candidate,” Walter said. \(The request came from the “Intimates of Bentsen-the-candidate say his refusal to capitalize on the resignations was a part of the makeup of Bentsen-the-man. His private life he believed at the onset of the campaign was his own,” Walter concluded. The Republicans fared badly on all levels. All incumbent U.S. House members were reelected. Ultra-conservative State Rep. Bill Archer, a Republican, was elected to Bush’s congressional seat. G.O.P. swamped Although the state party had predicted up to 32 Republican legislative wins, they took only two additional state House seats to remain outnumbered in the lower house 140 to 10. They made no gains in the Senate, where the Democrat-Republican balance will be 29-2. The G.O.P. picked up two House seats in Houston and one in Dallas, but it lost veteran Republican Rep. Malouf Abraham of Canadian, who failed in his bid to take the vacated Senate seat of Grady Hazlewood. Fred Agnich beat Democrat Rep. Joe Ratcliff in Dallas by 730 votes. In Houston, liberal Democratic Rep. Russell Cummings was beaten by Republican A. S. conservative crime-fighter, was bested by Republican W. J. Blythe. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Heatly beat Republican challenger Zack Fisher with an impressive 75% of the votes in his West Texas district. November 27, 1970 7
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