Page 8


preoccupation with John Tower’s races and with national issues. Nary a Republican has been elected to statewide office during this century. The candidates, usually hand-picked by Tower and his cronies, run perfunctory races and then slide back into oblivion, secure in the knowledge that their unsuccessful campaigns put them at the front of the line when Republican presidents start dispensing patronage. Still, Tower must have been thinking about more than just state races when he recommended an embargo on national issues. He must have been thinking about the embarrassment any criticism of President Ford’s policies might cause the Texas Republicans in Washington. So . unseemly. The party’s attempt to put the kibosh on national resolutions was a performance that Dolph Briscoe and Calvin Guest could have admired. While Briscoe had Billie Carr and her liberal troops attempting to gum up the works at the Democratic convention, Tower and Warren had to cope with Nancy Palm and the right-wing crazies. Napalm, Lucille Biegel and other Republican militants were determined that the convention come out foresquare for conservatism, and damn the consequences. They, after all, were none too interested in smoothing the way for the statewide candidates. Their choice for governor, former State Sen. Henry Grover of Houston, dropped out of the race before the primary, blaming Tower and the GOP establishment for “torpedoing” his race. The issues people got off to a slow start. The day before the convention, Kenneth R. Hendrix of Bexar County announced that an “Open Convention” caucus would meet at noon in the coffee shop of the Hyatt Regency. No more than three or four delegates showed, and the caucus was postponed. One delegate who did appear for lunch was Janey Koenig of Bexar County, a trustee of Support the President of San Antonio and El Paso. She said she’d gotten a very cold shoulder from Resolutions Chairman Ike Harris and others when she asked the committee to approve a statement congratulating Ford for pardoning Nixon. “This is supposed to be a convention of the people and we are the people,” she said. “The politicians should do what the people want, for a change.” Somebody pointed out that she sounded like a liberal Democrat and another delegate said he didn’t care how it sounded, just so they got their point across. For a time, the insurgents pinned their hopes on Midland’s Mayor Ernie Angelo, who was threatening a race against Warren for state chairman, but he decided against it. “The broad consensus is that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the state leadership,” Angelo said in a press release. But, he added, a leadership contest would only hurt Jim Granberry’s chances. “Solely 6 The Texas Observer for that reason, I am not going to seek the office.” ON THE DAY of the convention the resolutions committee dutifully voted down all attempts to alter the anointed state-oriented platform, save for a resolution suggesting that the Young Republicans be given back their ex-officio status on the State Republican Executive Committee. Two national issues were brought to the floor as minority reports. There was a very close voice vote on Ms. K oenig’s resolution congratulating President Ford for pardoning Nixon. Tower, who chaired the convention, ruled that the nays had it and was roundly booed. For a few seconds it sounded like a Demo convention. Then State Rep. Ray Barnhardt of Pasadena presented his minority report, which many delegates agreed was downright eloquent. “RESOLVED,” the resolution said, “That the Republican Party of Texas make known to President Ford its very deep concern over the direction of the new administration and apparent compromise of basic conservative principles [loud applause] , as expressed in legislation which would enlarge the federal bureaucracy and subvert personal freedom, legislation which reflects goals of the radical-liberal establishment rather than those advanced by conservative spokesmen, amnesty, and the appointment to high public office of individuals whose personal philosophy has previously been rejected by Republicans across the nation [loud applause] ; and FURTHER, That this resolution be forwarded to our new President whom we earnestly desire to There could be no doubt about the voice vote on the Barnhardt resolution. Tower called it in favor of the ayes. Apparently overcome with the hubris of victory, a Bexar County delegate close to the front mike shouted for a standing ovation in honor of the absent Hank Grover. A goodly number of delegates were glad to provide it. On that insurgent note the convention adjourned. These final convention moments were the only surprise in an otherwise well-orchestrated event. As one reporter pointed out, “By and large, Republicans believe that rules are made to be followed.” The lines at the concession stands moved crisply forward. The chairs in the caucus rooms were placed in neat rows. On the convention floor, the delegates stayed ip their seats and didn’t even smoke much. As astounding as this may seem to Democrats, the Republicans had no credentials challenges. In the five district caucuses attended by an Observer reporter, there no contested races for committee positions. Everyone was elected by acclamation. Despite the criticism of Jack Warren, all but two caucuses voted for him for a new term. Nancy Palm’s 15th District in Houston didn’t vote for anyone. District 18, which included Bastrop, Fayette, Goliad, Bell and a bunch more predominantly rural counties, voted for Millard Neptune, chairman of the Travis County GOP. As soon as he heard about this gaffe, Neptune hied himself to Tower and Warren to offer his apologies. Attendance at the convention must have been a disappointment to Republican leaders. Only about a third of the elected delegates and alternates bothered to come. The Republicans were entitled to 4,708 delegates and an equal number of alternates, but only 2,130 delegates and 730 alternates registered. Under the convention’s rules, a chairman could vote his district’s full strength, even if he were the only delegate in attendance at the meeting. THIS DEARTH of delegate enthusiasm no doubt had something to do with the Republicans’ lackluster slate this year. Two years ago, Henry Grover came within 100,000 votes of matching Dolph Briscoe’s total. Grover is popular among the rank and file conservative voters, but he’s not on the Tower team. This year he was virtually driven out of the race by the state party establishment. At first, the party leaders were leaning toward support of State Rep. Ray Hutchison for governor, but Hutchison pulled out of the race and the party settled on Jim Granberry, an orthodonist who used to be mayor of Lubbock. Granberry wanted to run, which is more than can be said for many previous GOP candidates who have condescended to be on the ticket out of political noblesse oblige. Just as Sissy Farenthold did in the Democratic primary, Granberry is attacking Governor Briscoe for doing so little in office. The watchword of the Briscoe administration, according to Granberry, is “Texas passes,” the unfortunate phrase the governor used so often during the 1972 National Democratic Convention. In his speech to the delegates, Granberry accused Briscoe of passing, rather than exerting leadership, at the constitutional convention, of passing on the tricky question of school financing and of failing to implement “one single positive program” to combat “waste and inefficiency in stat government.” The Republican candidate called Briscoe a “spendthrift.” He said , that expenditures in the governor’s office have increased 35 to 40 percent during Briscoe’s tenure while overall state spending has increased from $5,621 per minute in 1970 to $9,398 in 1974. Briscoe may be spending more, but, thanks to federal revenue sharing and unusually high oil and gas revenues, he hasn’t had to raise taxes. That’s what most citizens are going to gratefully remember. Granberry told the convention that