outrage. “1 admire Washington, goddammit,” he roared. Well, between semi-liberal Fred Head, who comes on like a sanctimonious prig, and mostly-liberal Carl Parker, who usually comes on like a jolly hardhat, the Legislature’s liberals tied themselves into such a mother-loving knot that a good clump of them went and pledged to Clayton. And they broke the race wide open for Clayton. BOB BULLOCK, that ever-cynical political observer, maintains that speaker’s races have nothing whatsoever to do with ideology. “It’s not liberal or conservative, or East Texas and West Texas, or urban and rural,” he said. “It’s the straight politics of ‘gimme.’ What’s in it, for me? Can I get a chairmanship? What committees can I get? That’s all they care about, come speaker time.” May be. But one is left to wonder, where are the kamikaze libs of yesteryear? It is perenially fashionable in Texas political circles to vilify kamikaze libs, but they are, in their fashion, an endearing group. One recalls those happy few who helped elect Rayford Price speaker in 1972 by obstinately voting for the Rev. Zan Holmes of Dallas, whose only qualification was that he was one of the finest men ever to sit in the Texas Legislature. In speaker’s races, your full-blooded kamikaze liberal is supposed to vote for St. Xenophon the Humble or to insist that the speaker be replaced by a politburo or, in the ultimate clutch, to white-light it. But kamikaze liberals are not supposed to make deals with Billy Clayton. Some of the deals have already come unstuck. If Clayton is elected speaker, his administration will be marked by an hilariously uneasy alliance Fred Head and Rep. Joe Wyatt of Victoria as two of the top team members. Antipathy is not the right word for the feelings between those two. Wyatt’s loathing of Head is bone-deep. One Houston Head-liberal was reportedly promised the chairmanship of business and industry. But Wyatt had a hissy fit at the thought and vetoed the deal, after the lib’s name had been announced by Clayton. There is some grim prophesying going on around the capitol these days. Rep. Joe Allen of Baytown, a Parker man, said in disgust, “Those virgins. Those virgins! They got all upset at the end of the convention because Price, Jr., shut the back mike off on Chet Brooks. My God. They don’t know anything. That’s the way it used to be done all the time. Some lib would get at the back mike and Mutscher would cut it off and then Heady and some goon would come and shoulder you away from it and hunker down on either side of it, guardin’ it so you couldn’t get at it, couldn’t talk. There was never any freedom of speech in the House in those days and that’s what’s comin’ back under Clayton. Just wait. Those virgins have no idea what they’ve just voted for.” Another Parker man said, “The day of the big lobbyists is coming back. Harry Whitworth, Bill Abington, Jim Yancey they’ll all be back, runnin’ things just the way they always did. I really thought Sharpstown would be good for about six years of reform. I never thought they’d come back in as short a time as two years. Those liberals who bitched about Price, Jr., are gonna learn something about bad leadership.” Well, pols do tend to get a trifle overexcited at such times. Maybe it won’t be so bad. Clayton assured the Observer over and over that although he knew his voting record was very conservative, he was determined to see to it that everyone got a fair shake, had a good fair run under his speakership. It was not encouraging to note, however, that at his first “victory” press conference he was saying that, no, he didn’t think he could go along with the Price Daniel, Jr., idea that a speaker should only serve one term. Nope, he just couldn’t limit himself to one term. Clayton sees himself as having been the Underdog in this race. In speaking of his first race for the House, against tough odds, he said, “That was another race ol’ Billy Clayton just couldn’t win.” He said he got no help from his lobbyist friends until after the fact. “Of course, they’re all very pleased now,” he said, frankly and candidly. “We are good friends and all that. But they weren’t giving me any help before, because, you know, Billy Clayton just can’t win this.” As for the rumor that former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes had been the brains behind his operation, Clayton laughed and allowed as how he had run into Ben in a hotel in Dallas a few months ago and Ben gave him some good advice but that was it. And then Clayton laughed again and said, “But you know I was up here [in the Driskill Hotel] when Ben put together his first speaker’s race and so I know how it was done, I know about the blitz.” THE TIMING in the race was key. On Sunday, Sept. 1, Clayton’s people rented the entire 12th floor of the Driskill and started phoning non-stop. Rep. Buddy Temple of Diboll had announced his switch from Head to Parker on Saturday, Aug. 31. Temple had told the Head crew, at a social function less than a week earlier, that he planned to do so, and the Head group also knew that, given the circumstances, Head would decide to go to Clayton. But as of Aug. 31 and Temple’s announcement, the assumption in the press and elsewhere had been that Parker was suddenly the front-runner. However, some labor honchos and others had been warning Parker for a month that when the Head camp split, a group of liberals would go with Clayton. The Head liberals who were not swinging to Parker with Temple went through a period of confusion. There were some feeble efforts among them to get together a group of maybe 20, 25 who would hang together, stay uncommitted right up to January and then walk into the balloting with the swing votes and try to turn the whole race to somebody decent Neil Caldwell still being the Number One dream candidate of the libs. But that never got beyond the talk stage. One such group, Rep. Bill Sullivant’s, which had met earlier in the month at Arlington, was not considered by the libs to be truly committed to independence. They thought it was just set up for a sell out to the highest bidder. By Sept. 1, the Sullivant group was committed to Clayton and Clayton’s people were phoning the uncommitted libs. Parker’s people, overconfident with the flush of near-victory brought on by Temple’s switch, weren’t doing much of anything. Parker was still in Port Arthur. By the time Head made his announcement at 10 Tuesday morning, the Clayton group was at 73 votes, three short of a majority. Between Head’s 10 a.m. press conference and Clayton’s 6 p.m. conference the same day, some of the most hectic phoning imaginable was going on. Clayton’s folks were a little embarrassed when reminded of all the people they had assured that day September 20, 1974 5
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