BSERVER A Journal of Free Voices 50fi A Window to the South October 29, 1976 THE TEXAS SIX MORE YEARS Austin, Washington, D.C. Lloyd Bentsen Jr. was raised rich, and it shows. He has the sort of self-assured, slightly arrogant bearing that characterizes wealthy corporate executives who are certain of their place in the scheme of things. Alan Steelman was not raised rich, and it shows. His is the bearing of a striving young Republican, scrambling out of a workingclass background to the lofty environs of the U.S. Congress and God knows where next. The incumbent These two fellows are your major choices on Nov. 2 for the U.S. Senate. It is not a happy choice. The base facts are these: Bentsen, a 55-year old Democrat from McAllen, is the incumbent; Steelman, a 34-year old Republican congressman from Dallas, is the challenger; Neither candidate comes close to being a progressive, though both flash touched-up liberal credentials when they find themselves in that kind of a crowd; The campaign has stirred little enthusiasm among party workers, and the general voting public seems hard pressed to stifle a statewide yawn; Steelman has been the more interesting and aggressive campaigner; Bentsen is going to win it. The nearest thing to an issue in the entire campaign is Steelman’s persistent charge that Bentsen is the bag toter of the special interests, carrying their legislation in the Senate and carrying their money in the election. Steelman has pounded Bentsen particularly hard for his work on the recently passed tax bill, pointing to Bentsen amendments that aided Hollywood movie producers, banking interests, private hospitals, shipping companies, book publishers, oil firms, and others \(see Obs., In pressing these charges, Steelman tagged Bentsen with the only memorable epithet of the campaign, “Loophole Lloyd.” \(Bentsen tried to come back with a lame “Absent Al,” referring to Steelman’s poor congressional attendance record during the past several weeks of campaigning, but it just didn’t hum, so the Bentsen people George Bristol, Bentsen’s campaign manager, brushed aside the “Loophole Lloyd” talk as no more than campaign rhetoric, arguing that “Texas is a big state with a lot of special interests, including pensioners, farmers, small businesses, and others.” In their view, the senator is in a position to aid all comers: “I will not turn a deaf ear to any justified request for assistance from a constituent, be he a contributor or a non-contributor [to my campaign],” Bentsen assured The Dallas Morning News. Steelman also has jabbed effectively at Bentsen’s refusal to make a complete disclosure of his financial holdingsa sore spot that Ralph Yarborough hammered in his 1970 race against Bentsen. In 1971, Bentsen finally issued a net worth statement, showing him good for $2.3 million. Since then, Bentsen has stonewalled. Steelman has released a statement of his his income tax return. “The biggest bogus issue of the race” is what Bristol thinks of financial disclosure. He says that Bentsen has resigned from board memberships on all profit-making corporations \(Lockheed, Continental Oil, of his holdings in an irrevocable blind trust and does not even accept honorariums for speaking. Furthermore, says Bristol, Bentsen did most of this “pre-Watergate.” So why not just release a new net worth statement and shut Steelman up? “Because it’s not relevant to the campaign; not a legitimate issue,” concludes Bristol. And, with a dash of Catch-22 logic, Bentsen himself says that to issue an update of the 1971 statement would be a violation of his blind trust. The challenger
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