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Critical year The 1978 elections are critical to the future of the Republican Party in Texas. After the census of 1980, new district lines will be drawn for representation in the U.S. House and the Texas Legislature. How those district boundaries are drawn will in large measure determine the GOP’s fate for at least another decade. Redistricting is done by the Legislature, and 1978 is the next-to-last chance for Republicans to bolster their minority position in the House and Senate before the process begins. Nobody expects that enough Republicans will be elected to either chamber to give the party much say in the boundary-drawing, but the GOP’s strength might be such that the party could emerge as the balance of power between liberal and conservative Democrats. If Republican legislators were to achieve this position, they could force reluctant Democrats to draw fair and competitive districts lines. The GOP’s prospects for balance-of-power politics seem far greater in the Senate than the House, but it is not inconceivable that such a favorable situation might be obtained in both chambers. The focus on the Legislature and the election of Republicans in numbers sufficient to affect redistricting has another important dimension. Republicans have a rare opportunity next year to make dramatic gains in the Texas congressional delegation. Should 1978 yield three or four new Republican congressmen, those new seats could be wiped out by redistricting if there are not enough Republicans in the Legislature to protect them at redistricting time. Also fitting into the redistricting equation are the state’s three top executive officers: the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. The governor, of course, has veto power over any redistricting bill, and the lieutenant governor, as the powerful presiding officer of the Senate, can alter the shape of any bill before it gets through the Legislature. The attorney general’s power to issue an opinion on the legality of a redistricting bill could also have some bearing on the final product. Next year’s election is the GOP’s last chance to compete for these offices before redistricting. The super stars With Republicans guardedly optimistic about their 1978 prospects, there is some discussion of the roles the Texas Republican “super stars” will or will not play in the upcoming elections. John Tower is certainly a party “super star,” but his energies will of necessity be devoted almost exclusively to his own reelection campaign. Thus the unknown element is what the “ABC’s” will do-Armstrong, Bush and Connally. The interest is heightened because of a pre vailing presumption that each has national ambitions. Anne Armstrongformer cabinetlevel adviser to Presidents Nixon and Ford, former ambassador to the Court of St. James, and current retiree to the Armstrong ranch in South Texasis believed by many to have her eye on her party’s 1980 vice presidential nomination, and most of those so speculating would like to see her on the national ticket. Others closer to her, however, believe that family matters have a much higher priority with Armstrong at the moment, and point to her self-imposed moratorium on political activity. Former state chairman Ray Hutchison and other party leaders have tried to get Armstrong to run for statewide office in 1978, but so far without success. A contrary view, however, is that Armstrong feels a Republican cannot be elected to a major statewide office next year, and that she has concluded that she would gain nothing and lose a great deal were she to run and not win. Whether or not she will lift her moratorium on political involvement and permit herself a schedule of campaign appearances on behalf of Republican candidates in Texas and around the country remains an open question. A former state chairman close to Armstrong said, “I think Anne probably doesn’t have any persona] political ambitions right now.” But, after a pause, he added, “I’m not sure.” Almost certainly, .Anne Armstrong will keep her name off the Texas ballot in 1978, but her political plans for the year and her plans for 1980, if any, remain cloudyand fit for rumor and speculation. People close to George Bush seem surer of his moves. “George is keeping his options open to run for president,” a professional party operative said. Friends of the former congressman/ ambassador/national chairman/CIA director agree. One of his close friends told the Observer that “George is looking for something to get into. He’s been in [government ] so long, he’s getting a bit nervous.” But, “There’s nothing available to him in Texas.” Translated, that means Bush, like Armstrong, has no interest in running for governor or any other statewide office. A source close to John Tower was blunt about the reasons: “George apparently doesn’t think he could win the governorship, and I’m afraid he would face a strong opponent in the primary even if he were to try. He’d win the primary, of course, but he could be hurt.” More importantly, perhaps, Bush has never been known to have an interest in state government. The Texas governor’s office would certainly be a plausible base for a presidential effort, but Bush’s lack of interest in Austin and the risks encountered in a gubernatorial campaign seem to be compelling reasons for sitting 4 OCTOBER 7, 1977