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A swing to the right in Dallas & Houston Dallas This may be a woe-filled year for Texas progressives. Special elections for a Dallas mayor and a Houston congressperson indicated that the state may be taking a hard political turn to the right. In Dallas, Robert S. Folsom, who campaigned against busing, against a city master plan, and against “moral laxity,” led moderate Garry Weber into a runoff. Down on the coast where there was a race to fill Bob Casey’s congressional seat, Ron Paul, a Reaganite Republican from Lake Jackson, walked all over former State Sen. Bob Gammage, a liberal from Houston. Dallas first. Folsom was generally believed to have pulled a Lazarus for the oligarchy’s machine. The CCA has repeatedly been given up for dead by the Observer \(see “Is Dallas falling apart?” Feb. political pundits. The primary evidence of the CCA’s demise was Wes Wise’s two terms as mayor. Wise was no Fiorello La Guardia, but he had a constituency of his own. He was a politician rather than an emissary from the business community, and, as a politician, he was capable of shifting -with the political tides. The CCA shifts about as much as a chunk of granite. Wise stepped down as mayor to run for Alan Steelman’s congressional seat \(Steelman, a Republican, is out for Lloyd Bentsen’s SeWhen Garry Weber, a Dallas council member, filed for mayor, he was immediately perceived as the frontrunner. Weber, a 40-year-old stock broker, is a politically attractive candidate with one foot in and one foot out of the establishment. He’s something of a swinger for Dallas, has been divorced twice, handles stock transactions from time to time for John Connally and Ben Barnes. Weber could be considered a progressive only in a Dallasite’s sense of the word. He originally ran on a CCA platform back in 1969, but when the CCA disavowed him for advocating such revolutionary causes as a city consumer affairs department, Weber went out, raised $80,000, and got reelected twice on his own. This was cited as further evidence of the CCA’s moribund state. The CCA has since tried to spiff up its image by inviting blacks and browns and women to run under its banner, but few other than CCA members perceived this new openness as anything more than window dressing. This spring, a handful of 10 The Texas Observer Dallas businessmen, the top leaders of the CCA, passed over R. L. Thornton, Jr., who wanted to run for mayor and chose instead to ask Folsom, a 49-year-old developer, to be their candidate. Folsom agreed to run, but he shunned the CCA label. “Naturally, I want the support of the individuals who make up the CCA,” he said. “But I didn’t want the support of CCA as such, and I’m glad they’ve stayed out of it. I think the CCA as a group has lost touch with the peopleand I don’t want to have to defend them.” Despite Folsom’s demurrers, his impressive victory in the special election is viewed in Dallas as a victory for the CCA. And many are asking, as Bill Porterfield did during a recent KERA-TV commentary, “Was Wes Wise really a fluke?” The Dallas papers described Folsom as a “nice guy,” somewhat “plain vanilla,” who goes to church every week, spends time with his wife and four children, and never tells dirty jokes. Like Jimmy Carter and Ronnie Reagan, he talked some about religious faith. In a statement for The Dallas Times Herald, he wrote, “Moral laxitythe breakdown of the family unit, the reluctance of parents to accept respon Bob Gammage sibility for their children, the widespread notion that it is our right to have anything we wantwe must fight by rededication to the principles of our religious faith and our founding fathers.” Folsom, no doubt, was trying to play up the moral differences between himself and Weber. \(Weber’s second wife now despises him so much that she threatened to run in common, too. They are both white male millionaires \(Folsom is worth $7 million while Weber, the people’s candidate, has a former SMU football players. It was a good, hard, expensive race and before it was over Folsom and Weber \(and total of $400,000 campaigning for the $50a-week job. Folsom, who was a virtual unknown to the city at large, doled out an estimated $200,000 on advertising, primarily TV. He got 48.4 percent of the total vote to Weber’s 45.2. Dallas is currently trying to weasel out of yet another court-ordered desegregation plan and the primary issue in the race was busing. Both men said they opposed forced busing for racial balance, but Folsom endorsed a constitutional amendment to ban busing and Weber didn’t. This stand earned Folsom the support of Rose Renfroe, a city councilwoman who leads Dallas’ antibusing troops \(see Obs., \(The race to fill Weber’s council seat also seemed to hinge on busing. Former rightwing Councilman Jesse Price led into the runoff against Bill Blackburn, who used to work in the White House for LBJ. Price’s and Blackburn’s positions on busing were identical to Folsom’s and Weber’s, respecA semi-important issue in the race was land-use planning, Folsom the developer was for all-out growth in Dallas. He labeled the present city council as “anti-business, anti-Dallas, and anti-developer.” He said he was opposed to the master plan under consideration by the council because it was too “restrictive” on developers and “negative” in tone. Weber praised the city plan which would designate areas for parks, apartments, shopping centers, and other businesses. The runoff will be sometime in late April. There is a question as to whether it should be held on a Tuesday or a Saturday. Weber wants it to be on a Saturday when working folk would find it easiest to vote. Down around Houston town, Ron Paul’s defeat of former State Sen. Bob Gammage for Bob Casey’s congressional seat came as a surprise to most everyone except the Reaganite Republicans who had been out beating the bushes for Paul so successfully. Gammage, a liberal Democrat from Houston, had been coveting Casey’s district for years. He went into the special election fairly confident that he would win it. In fact, some Houston observers said he acted more like an incumbent congressman than a campaigner until the runoff. Gam