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COPE stays out of it Austin The 1974 COPE convention was … uh . ah . . . conservative. Granted, it is not a double jump-up thriller of a political year, but the Texas AFL-CIO took advantage of the prevailing calm to endorse no one in the one race where an endorsement would have any meaning. The “fix” on the Farenthold-Briscoe race was set up weeks ago. Under the new COPE rules, no candidate can get an endorsement without a two-thirds vote of the convention. Briscoe and Farenthold each have enough labor support to stop an endorsement of the other. Ergo, it just seemed simpler to everyone to avoid a fight by not even trying to endorse either. The Farenthold people, with a clear advantage in the rank and file, might have tried for endorsement, even though they knew they would lose, simply to show that Farenthold has more labor support than Briscoe, even if not two-thirds of COPE. But AFL President Harry Hubbard astutely squashed any such move by continually reminding the delegates of rule 43, section candidates or ballot issues … shall require a two-thirds majority of the votes cast. In the absence of a two-thirds majority, either to support or oppose, the State AFL-CIO shall be neutral.” [Italics added.] Hubbard kept reminding the delegates that if they tried for an endorsement for their favorite and it failed, they would be officially bound not to publicly support their choice. That worked slick as owl poop. Nary a peep was heard after Hubbard called for debate on the executive committee’s report, which merely commended both Farenthold and Briscoe. FARENTHOLD’S “unblemished labor voting record,” pro-labor stance on innumerable issues and her role in ethics legislation in Texas were tossed off in two sentences. Three times as much space was devoted to Briscoe’s pro-labor appointees having “maintained a commendable relationship with the state office.” On March 4, Briscoe had commendably tried to make a liar out of Harry Hubbard by denying that he had ever given any assurance that he would help in keeping a right-to-work provision out of the new constitution. Hubbard then tactfully and delphically announced that his report of Briscoe’s having given him such assurance had not been quoted accurately, but had not been misquoted either. On March 13, Rick Fish of The Austin American astutely asked Speaker Price Daniel, Jr., if he had ever heard Briscoe give any assurance that he would help keep right-to-work out of the constitution. Certainly had, said Daniel, remembered it well. He, Bill Hobby and the governor had even talked before the convention about putting up a “united front” on that point. Creekmore Fath, Farenthold’s campaign manager, said after the convention, “I thought two years ago that we had 85 percent of the rank and file. The only difference this year was that I thought we had 95 percent.” Weeeell, there’s certainly no question that Farenthold is more popular with the general run of labor folks than is Briscoe. The difference in the applause they received after they spoke at the COPE convention was so marked that The Dallas Morning News played it in a headline. But even observers sympathetic to Farenthold felt that, while she is still labor’s fave, her performance this year did not generate the same electric excitement as her appearance two years ago before the COPE convention in Galveston. There is likely an extent to which that lack of electricity was attributable to the fact that the delegates already knew there wouldn’t be a fight this year. Labor went through so many bloody, internecine, endorsement fights in the ’60s that it’s still gun-shy. Hubbard, whose low-key style is somewhere between soothing and soporific, played to that fear, urging delegates not to tear up the labor movement \(there was no great likelihood a big push in ’76. But labor leaders may find that there is an extent to which intramural fights are positively beneficial. They get folks stirred up, ready for battle, prepared to go out and tear up the political turf for their chosen candidate. After listening to the post-convention comments of p.o.’d delegates on both sides, one had to conclude that there are a lot of labor folks who just plain enjoy a good fight. There was considerable resentful grumbling along the lines of, “What’s the use of having a labor endorsement organization if we don’t endorse anybody?” John Hill for attorney general; Bob Armstrong for land commissioner; Jesse James for treasurer; John White for agriculture commissioner; Bob Bullock for comptroller and Mack Wallace for railraod commissioner. All except Bullock are incumbents with only token primary opposition. Bullock’s opposition, Hugh Edburg, a top assistant to retiring incumbent Robert Calvert, gave what was generally voted the most boring speech in a boring convention. Bullock gave a considerably more peppy performance, calling Ed burg “the second-ranking pencil pusher in a second rate comptroller’s office.” The one and only question raised about the endorsements was brought up by young Wayne Johnson, a black. He asked Hubbard why the AFL-CIO was endorsing Jesse James. Hubbard told him it was because the executive committee had so recommended. Johnson said, “Oh,” and sat down. Still seems like a good question. Why is the AFL-CIO endorsing Jesse James? The one turn-on of the convention was THE HO-HUM endorsement list is: Bill Hobby for lieutenant governor; March 29, 1974 3