Atty. Gen. Hill 74 Percent for years in the Senate; and McKool camp aigned hard on Steelman’s membership in the party of Richard Nixon and double-digit inflation. But in a contest for lowest possible turnout, black precincts which were solidly McKool’s out-yawned white precincts, 15 percent to 30. And McKool did not do nearly as well as he expected in what one observer called the “hippie precincts” of the district boxes where Steelman’s stand against the Trinity River barge canal may have been a major consideration for environmentally-minded folks. In the 21st, where U.S. Rep. 0. C. Fisher is retiring, Democrat Bob Krueger won a solid victory over Republican Doug Harlan and an American Party candidate, winning some 54 percent of the votes. A cynical friend has already told us, “In thesmall, incremental differences by which electoral politics is measured, Krueger over Harlan in that district is one of the smallest.” It must be said for 0. C. Fisher that the necessity for running in the 21st District would eradicate the instinct for liberalism in any person; it remains to be seen whether Krueger will live up to his whispered reputation as a closet moderate. Krueger survived, among other vicissitudes, a gut-job in New Times magazine that accused him of lying about being a conservative for the sake of winning votes in the 21st. Compared to those races, the other Congressional returns look like the results of incumbents running unopposed, as eight Democratic members of the delegation did. Two of the incumbents who did face ineffective Republican opposition, Jack Brooks of Beaumont and Ray Roberts of McKinney, will apparently succeed to chairmanships in the new House. Brooks, who used the chair of a subcommittee of the Government Operations Committee to flay Richard Nixon for spending federal funds to improve his San Clemente and Key Biscayne estates, is in line .to become chairman of the full’ committee, since Rep. Chet Holifield of California is retiring. Roberts is all set up to take over the chair of Veterans Affairs. But Rep. Olin “Tiger” Teague of College Station, who has more seniority on the committee but prefers to run the Science and Astronautics Committee, is expected to retain his pre-eminent clout in the field. The accession of Brooks and Roberts would bring the total number of chairmanships held by Texans in the House to six. In addition to Teague, the present delegation includes chairmen of Agriculture \(W. R. George Behind that imposing lineup, the Texas delegation also has a “second team” of members with strong records of seniority and better-than-average chances of staying in office until the next Flood. Rep. Bob Casey of Houston, for example, is 19 places away from the chair of Appropriations but then he’s only 59, just out of his stripling-hood as a veteran congressman. Rep. Kika de la Garza of Mission is second-ranking Democrat on Agriculture, and he’s only 46. Rep. Jim Wright of Fort Worth, 52, is second-ranking Democrat on Public Works and Transportation, and already heads that committee’s investigations subcommittee. Rep. Richard White of El Paso is sixth from the top at Post Office and Civil Service; he is 51. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez is eighth on Banking and Currency at 58. Rep. John Young of Corpus Christi is fifth-ranked on the Rules Committee; he is 58. The Houston Post reports there may be a regular traffic jam as Texas members move to pick off emptying committee assignments. The departures of Fisher and Price will reduce Texas’ membership on Armed Services from three to one: Krueger, Rep. Charles Wilson of Lufkin, and Rep. Chick Kazen of Laredo are all reportedly interested in seats there. Krueger makes Agriculture his second choice, according to the Post, but fellow freshman Hightower is also interested in the assignment. IF YOU WEREN’T gripped by the suspense of the statewide races, it was because you weren’t involved in the great Hobby-Hill contest to lead the ticket. Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and Atty. Gen. John Hill, you understand, are grade A prospects for a 1978 gubernatorial primary, and their partisans were last seen, poring over results to see who had piled up the more impressive percentage. Now, voters are likely to forget these figures before 1978, but our totals show Hill, with 74 percent of the votes in his race, nosing out Hobby, with 71 percent in his. Perhaps that indicates that all but 3 percent of the electorate is willing to forget a DWI record, or perhaps it indicates nothing so significant. The two should do an excellent job of impersonating the cobra and the mongoose for the next four years, while the insiders, observers, informed sources, and pundits of Texas do variable jobs of figuring out which is the mongoose. The lopsided statewide Democratic win came in the first example of what Texas voters brought on themselves by approving, in 1972, a constitutional amendment providing for four-year terms for statewide officers. From now on, Republican statewide candidates will have to do without the coattails of Republican presidential candidates. The difference may never again be as obvious as it was between 1974 and 1972, when Richard Nixon’s presidency replaced Richard Nixon’s candidacy as a prime factor in Republicans! chances for success. The conyentional wisdom says that low turnouts favor Republicans, and holding statewide elections in non-presidential years should guarantee a lower turnout. But off-year elections also remove the chance that a Republican presidential landslide will spread down the ticket, and the second party in a one-party state needs all the presidential landslides it can get. The best news for Republicans this year was that they won county judgeships in the state’s two . most populous counties. In Dallas, John Whittington, who resigned his seat as a county commissioner this year, whipped incumbent Democrat Lew Sterrett. Sterrett had been county judge for 26 years. He ran into several kinds of trouble this year: a lack of support from conservative businessmen who would have preferred a younger candidate; a strong endorsement of Whittington by The Dallas Times Herald; equally strong identification of Sterrett with Sheriff ,Clarence Jones, who is up to his hip pockets in a bail bond scandal, and with a jail that the courts. have found violates a state law passed before the jail was built; and a low turnout in Democratic precincts. Whittington is not expected to wield the kind of power that Sterrett did. The Morning News quoted one unnamed courthouse official this way: “Until about four months ago, Sterrett could pick up the phone, and in five minutes he could have any problem solved.” Whittington will have neither Sterrett’s years of influence-building nor a partisan majority on the commissioners court to work with. State Rep. Paul Ragsdale gave a pretty good summary of how Dallas progressive Democrats feel about Sterrett when he came within an eyelash of endorsing Whittington at a pre-election news conference. Sterrett, Ragsdale said, “still November 29, 1974 7 w 4.460,m0,10 41.4.4*-51proorna4g0OPOW 04.11044+1k.
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