Speaker… the constitutional convention, the tension and hostility swirling around the race was such that it was possible to come within a tooth-skin of touching off fistfights just by asking questions and then checking the answers with those named in them. Once upon a time, it was possible to read the major candidates in the race as follows: Fred Head of Troup, Mr. Super-Clean, an original Dirty Thirtian, something of a turkey in personality \(no one has ever accused Fred Head of being one of the \(The Houston Post’s tongue -in -cheek columnist “J. Freshman Lawmaker” recently described him as “a point out that given Head’s deep East Texas district, his record is a triumph of left-wingerism it takes a bunch more political guts to make some moderate-liberal votes if you’re from Troup than if you’re from a Houston ghetto; Head’s chief virtue is that he single-handedly added a whole new dimension to the description “he’s a worker;” his sense of humor is not visible to the naked eye. Carl Parker of Port Arthur, a much-compromised liberal, cocky, funny, a good-or-boy of the new school, i.e., a good ol’ boy with brains; stuck with Gus Mutscher way too long, allegedly carried some water for the vending machine interests, is tied in with Oscar Wyatt, Jr., everyone’s favorite oil & gas villain \(Wyatt is the head honcho of Coastal States, the wonderful folks who brought South Texas probably took a bum rap on a furniture deal, over which he got sued it didn’t help his reputation any; the kind of labor-liberal whose good works are mostly ignored or denigrated by pure-libs on account of he ain’t no Sissy Farenthold liberals have a tendency to get much madder at libs who periodically flake and deal than they do at consistent no-goods. Billy Clayton of Springlake, a conservative. A conservative’s conservative, a cockroach, but not dumb; his special interest is selling water \(remember the West Texan and the lobby could love. In the meantime, Head’s Mr. Clean image has acquired some large splotches. First off, he went and hired two people to run his campaign who are mighty high on the liberals’ S-list. One is Danny Parrish, a Fort Worth public relations man who has run some campaigns for conservative Republicans that would warm the cockles of the old CREEP crew. \(One well-known Parrish trick is to wait ’til election day and then, early on, charge the opposition with messing with the ballots or the voting machines. The charge makes the radio broadcasts all day and the opposition seldom has enough time to find out what did happen generally, nothing and Head has also hired Jim McWilliams as his executive assistant. McWilliams has some good credentials a Ph.D. in government, was dean of Lee College in Baytown, served on the Baytown city council and then came up to Austin to work for a legislative committee. But there are a whole bunch of people who just don’t like McWilliams, among them Rep. Joe Allen of Baytown. Allen isn’t talking about the incident these days, since it’s under investigation by Travis County D.A. Bob Smith, but he earlier told several friends that McWilliams had offered him $2,000 in return for a pledge to Head $1,000 to sign the pledge letter and another $1,000 when it was made public. McWilliams denies the whole thing. Head says he is satisfied with McWilliams’ denial and makes somewhat pious references to “Joe’s Rep. Carl Parker personal problems” and not wanting to cause any more trouble for him. Parker’s people would have been a lot happier about the alleged McWilliams bribe if they hadn’t had some deleted on their own skirts at the time. Ed Leach of the Longview Daily News had the presence of mind to ask legislative candidate Pat Noon if he’d been approached by any of the speaker candidates. Yeah, said Noon, in fact, he got one call where a guy offered to contribute $600 to his campaign if he’d pledge to a certain speaker candidate. The candidate was not Fred Head. McWilliams actively promoted the rumor that the caller was Rep. John Bigham of Belton, a strong Parker supporter. In fact, Bigham’s brother did call Noon, but both he and Noon say it was merely a normal political conversation, Bigham’s brother speaking as a potential constituent of Noon’s. Ed Leach, however, maintains that it is his impression that Noon actually was offered a bribe \(Leach politically naive that he didn’t even realize what it was. John Bigham, somewhat more than considerably irked by having his name dragged into this mess, has asked the attorney general to investigate the allegation. WELL, IF THAT weren’t enough to get folks riled, there then began a sort of contest to see which candidate had the biggest collection of undesirables on his side. The notorious and irrepressible lobbyist Jimmy Day popped up with Bud Adams, the Houston oilman, for a client. “You can’t keep a good man down,” quoth Day, when asked about his comeback. He parcelled out money to legislative candidates on Adams’ behalf, sometimes adding in a postscript, “Carl Parker sends his regards.” Parker’s people sneer suggestively when they recite the names of some of Head’s big contributors, such as Wesley West, another Houston oil man Mobile Communications, Inc. in Dallas. “What do you think people like that want out of Head?” they ask. Hard to say. What almost everyone wants in a speaker’s race is not to be on the losing side. Generally speaking, there are three special interest groups in this state that don’t mind giving their money to liberals oil, chiropractors and loan sharks. This is because there are a lot more votes concerning them that pit one segment of the interest group against another than there are dramatic confrontations between public and private interests. An example would be unitization. Say a big oil man favors unitization: he can just hold his nose when his liberal candidate votes to remove the welfare ceiling or what have you, as long as the guy holds firm for unitization and doesn’t do anything really tacky, like fighting for a corporate income tax. When doping speaker’s races, it is best to keep an eye upon certain folks whose power stems in large part from their almost uncanny ability to spot winners early. Examples would be Frank Erwin, Bill Heatly and Dick Slack. Interestingly enough, Heatly has already jumped in this race. When asked about it, he denies that he’s pledged to anyone. However, it is known that he has made some calls for Parker. Heatly can bring with him at least some of Clayton’s natural constituents, which is important, since Head and Parker have approximately equal, although radically different, appeal to the moderate-liberal vote in the House. The next question is what Parker promised Heatly to get him aboard. Parker said, “I promised him absolutely nothing except the same consideration I will give every member if I am elected speaker.” Which is a bunch of bull, since Parker has already informed more than one Head partisan that June 7, 1974 3
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