Page 3


The COPE Convention Galveston John Henry Faulk is, as anyone who has ever listened to him knows, a wry fellow whose down-home humor covers a deep concern for the state of his beloved state. But on very rare occasions, the very sophisticated Mr. Faulk becomes downright sentimental. One of those occasions was on March 4 when Sissy Farenthold walked on the stage to address the AFL-CIO COPE convention here and the audience leaped to its feet cheering and yelling. “Goddamn!” said Faulk, as excited as a kid who’s just been give his first Christmas present. “Look at her -up there. I been waitin’ all my life to see somethin’ this good in Texas. She’s got so much style and so much intelligence and so much beauty and so much honesty. 0 goddamnit, she’s just got so much class.” Enough of that one, brief shining moment. Thereafter everyone went back to the dredgy realities of power and politics, p.d.q. For those of you who are not familiar with how COPE, the political arm of the labor movement, makes its endorsements, it should be explained that the operation is a railroad. And the only way to stop the railroad is to tear up the union movement. It has been done, most recently in 1968, over the non-endorsement of Don Gladden for lieutenant governor. Although Gladden himself backed his troops off from a floor fight rather than split labor, his people were so bitter about the leadership’s cop-out that the split existed anyway. In fairness to Roy Evans and the other union leaders, it should be noted that the railroad is generally an entirely satisfactory procedure for everyone Texas does not precisely abound with pols who’ve got swell labor records. The choice for labor, if there is one, is almost invariably clear. There may be an occasional difference on who is a lighter shade of gray or who is the lesser evil, in which case labor can save itself money by not endorsing anyone. But almost never does labor find itself in the painful predicament of having to choose between friends. The choices for labor in almost every race this year were obvious until Sissy Farenthold announced. She announced late: in fact, she never even considered running until she knew Ralph Yarborough wouldn’t be in the race. According to Evans, by the time she announced, labor had already decided not to allocate any money to the governor’s race. The allocations, made by the AFL-CIO president, in consultation 12 The Texas Observer with others, are made by race rather than by candidate. The budget was set when the COPE convention started. Even if Farenthold had won the endorsement, she would not have gotten any money. But the fact is that the AFL-CIO’s leadership didn’t want to give her that endorsement even though it wouldn’t have cost them anything. And the reasons for that attitude vary with who Theory One is that both Ben Barnes and Dolph Briscoe have significant enough segments of labor support so that a Farenthold endorsement would have split the labor movement badly and consequently endangered the chances of defeating Richard Nixon in November. Two is that all hands realize that Farenthold is the best candidate in the race, true-blue for labor and all that, but they’re resigned to seeing Barnes win it and are already getting ready to live with him. Endorsing Farenthold would not make him easier to live with. Unofficial theories range from paranoid to very paranoid. A. Evans made a deal with Preston Smith. Difficult to get paranoid about because Evans is so frank about his relations with Preston Smith. Evans likes the guy, thinks he’s honest and independent and says he keeps his word. Evans also says he’s told Smith forever that labor would never endorse him. Some of Smith’s people were p.o.’d by Evans’ performance at the COPE convention: felt he made gratuitous pro-Farenthold comments, didn’t build up the guv enough, etc. Some of Preston’s people are pretty naive. Had it not been for Evans, the governor quite likely would have been booed at the convention. As it was, he was received tepidly. B. Evans made a deal with Barnes. Very paranoid. Even the people spreading the rumor can’t come up with much evidence. If it’s true, nobody bothered to tell Barnes’ people, who are still convinced that Evans hates Barnes’ guts. But if the paranoid theories are rejected, it’s a trifle difficult to explain the muscle the labor leadership, threw into stopping the F arenthold endorsement. Both the Steelworkers and endorsed Farenthold by Thursday night. The OCAW \(Oil, Chemical and Atomic That gave her three of the heaviest unions around and a clear shot for an endorsement. But then the screws started turning. OCAW had endorsed her by two votes. They caucused again four hours later and failed to endorse her by two votes. The switch was a coup for the Barnes people. State Sen. Oscar Mauzy was generaling the Barnes’ effort on the upper levels while Gerald Brown of the Texas Building and Construction Trades superintended the effort among rank and file. J. W. Ricks of the OCAW, who is also a vice-president of the AFL-CIO, did the muscle work in the OCAW. The losers reported that threats were used. Don Horn, head of the Houston labor council, was also working with the Barnes faction as was R. J. Christie of the Houston Oil Workers. The reason some of Farenthold’s supporters were so hacked when the heavy muscle started coming down was because they were sure that the locals represented by the people working for Barnes were actually solid for Farenthold. Farenthold’s people knew by Friday night they couldn’t win a floor fight for the endorsement. They needed two-thirds. Estimates varied, but they looked to have something between the high 50’s or low 60’s in percentage. A recommendation \(a sort of “moral . support” endorsement, involving no leaving only a favorable resolution. Both Farenthold’s staff and Farenthold’s labor supporters agreed that such a resolution was the only thing that could be pulled out of the convention for her, and the executive committee was ready to accept such a resolution. Thus, it was a considerable shock when Evans got up at the Saturday morning session and told the membership that Farenthold had been offered a resolution but had turned it down. Her supporters were bewildered and then some of them decided the fix was in, that leadership didn’t even want her to get a resolution and all they could do was go ahead and force a floor fight. THERE WAS a motion from the floor to endorse Farenthold. The catch-22 of a labor endorsement lies in the losing of it. If a candidate loses an endorsement fight, then local unions are bound by AFL-CIO rules not to support that candidate. Losing such a fight, as she almost surely would have, would have been disastrous for Farenthold, since her support is precisely in the locals. Meanwhile, Farenthold and her people were blithely attending a reception for Sen. Hubert Humphrey under the impression that their position had been conveyed to the convention. Although some of Farenthold’s staff felt strongly