Everything you ever wanted to know… Someone else wanted that vice-chairmanship the redoutable Sen. Barbara Jordan. Briscoe v. Jordan was an unfair match: next to Jordan, Briscoe doesn’t even look like pablum he barely cuts it as thin gruel. There was no way Cowden could win a floor fight against Jordan it would have been like Joe Frazier against the Golden Gloves bantamweight champ. It was the second time Jordan has backed down a governor like that. At the September, 1970, convention, Preston Smith wanted Jordan to serve as secretary of the convention. He also wanted Ben Ramsey, the conservative, to serve as chairman. During the 50’s, Ramsey was identified with segregationist and anti-labor legislation. Jordan told Smith she wouldn’t serve as secretary under Ramsey. She served as secretary. Ramsey did not serve as chairman. IN THE MEANTIME Briscoe had been busy setting up his own petard, to wit, his nifty axe-Carrin-Patman plan. Briscoe suffers from an inexplicable aversion to Patman, the former national committeewoman who is actually a perfectly amiable moderate who even gets along with Roy Orr. Given half a chance, she’d like to get along with Briscoe, who keeps treating her like Flora the Red Menace. Briscoe set up this plan whereby the McGovern caucus would choose one of its people for one of the three new national committee seats, the Wallace caucus would choose one of its people, but the Humphrey caucus would not choose one of its people. Because the Humphrey caucus would have chosen Carrin Patman. Instead, decreed Briscoe, the third seat should go to someone selected by the minority caucus. He reportedly hoped to get a tame black out of the minority caucus. Well, the McGovern caucus got itself into a snit trying to decide between Houston precinct organizer Billie Carr and Sen. Joe Bernal of San Antonio. “Neck and neck” was the cliche of the day, as the two of them see-sawed around within a few votes of one another all morning. The Wallace caucus, without hesitation, chose Hall .Timanus, the reactionary Houston lawyer who has been their floor-leader since June. And the black caucus got itself together and decided that what it really wanted was Barbara Jordan as vice-chairman of . the SDEC and consequently as a member of the national committee with half a vote. Labor and the McGoverns were also putting on pressure for her. Since the blacks were going to get Barbara Jordan on, the minority caucus was obviously going to chose a chicano. And who better than Joe Bernal? IT TOOK about an hour for the Briscoe folk to accept it. “We were just outfoxed,” said one of Briscoe’s men. Instead of having one McGovern supporter among the seven Texas members on the national committee, Briscoe wound up with two strong McGovernites and a solid liberal who is now supporting McGovern with a good deal of her considerable energy. “I do have a Republican opponent in November,” said Jordan, who is a dead cert to win Houston’s new congressional seat. “I must not become overconfident, however, I do not think I will tell you my opponent’s name, since no one seems to know it now.” Bernal did most of the talking to the Briscoe folk and was in his top b u tter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth form. He looks like an aging ‘chicano cherub anyway, and kept saying, “Why, Mr. Briscoe, you never told us you made any commitment on just one McGovern person.” Bernal, Matt Garcia and Bob Vale to discuss possible chicano representation with Briscoe earlier in the month and he had fudged around on it. The chicano caucus had chosen Bernal unanimously on Monday as their man for the national committee, so when Jordan’s move opened up the minority spot, the McGoverns never even finished counting the votes between Can and Bernal \(Bernal thinks he had it been bugging the McGovern camp for the outcome of that race. When Bernal and Can finally went in to talk to them, and Briscoe’s people asked, “Who won? Who’s the McGovern candidate?” Bernal kept saying, “We’re presenting two McGovern candidates, a woman and a chicano.” The more Briscoe insisted they couldn’t do that, the more Bernal smiled and said Briscoe had never told him that. The Briscoe folk eventually accepted it, but refused to call Bernal a McGovern candidate. They went through an absurd charade of pretending they didn’t even know his presidential preference uncommitted as far as they were concerned, just representing the chicanos. The Briscoe folk wound up advancing the McGovern slate as their own: John Brunson, a conservative from Houston, announced it in the nominations committee meeting. Woodrow Bean of El Paso, a long-time liberal, got into one of his finky moods and protested strenuously. “The McGoverns are trying to take two positions, they’re trying to take two,” he bellowed in a whisper, as only he can, to the Wallace supporter behind him. But the slate whipped through the nominations committee and the convention with little sweat. According to one Briscoe aide, some of Briscoe’s people had been trying to get him to accept the inevitable with regard to Jordan for a couple of days. The aide said Briscoe is actually impressed with Jordan and they wanted him to get out in front and lead the bandwagon for her, instead of trying to oppose her. But one of those personal loyalty problems intervened: Guest wanted Ms. Cowden and the job had been promised to her and Ms. Cowden wanted the job a lot and was real upset when she didn’t get it. So says a Briscoe aide. Contrary to some published reports, Briscoe did not give in to the Jordan-Carr-Bernal slate in exchange for a promise from the libs that they wouldn’t force floor fights on any of the committee reports. In fact, the libs didn’t promise Briscoe anything to get his support for their slate: there just wasn’t anything he could do about it. Said one happy lib, “Whenever we want anything out of Briscoe from now on, we’ll just sneak up behind him and whisper, `Hand it over or we’ll elect Carrin Patman to something’.” MEANWHILE, things were getting out of hand on the convention floor. The Farmworkers had folks running around all day getting signatures from delegates on a petition so they could introduce a resolution supporting UFWOC. They collected the requisite percentage of signatures, and Roy Evans, president of the state AFL-CIO, stood up to introduce the Governor Briscoe resolution about 4 p.m. The resolution contained all kinds of worthy sentiments in favor of the workingman and this and that, but it sure ‘nough did endorse the UFWOC lettuce boycott, and with that came a roar of protest. Will Davis, acting chairman, \(Guest, Briscoe’s choice for chairman of the convention as well as of the SDEC, was reported to be running a 103 degree October 6, 1972 3
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