it out in 1978. Thus, as a man interested in keeping open his presidential options and “looking for something to get into,” Bush is likely to spend a lot of time campaigning on behalf of Republican candidatesout of state as much as or more than in. Bush recently campaigned for Robert L. Livingston, the successful Republican candidate in the special election to fill the vacancy in Louisiana’s 1st congressional district this summer. “This will be George’s pattern in 1978,” a party pro said. “He’ll be eclectic and pragmatic and help those candidates with the best chances to win.” If Bush chooses carefully, he will presumably have political IOUs on call in 1980. Bush’s personal schedule has apparently been designed to keep open and enhance his presidential options. He recently completed a return trip to China as the guest of the Chinese government, a trip that included a visit to Tibet. He will soon visit Germany. There are no clear signs that Bush’s trips are even “semi-official,” but his stature with foreign governments might make him a natural choice to handle sensitive diplomatic errands for the Carter administration, especially those free of partisan implications. “John Connally is running for president, and that’s no secret,” says a prominent state Republican whose own preference for president was and remains Ronald Reagan. “I think Connally’s running,” adds a former state chairman, and if he wants to take over the party organization, he can do it. Fifteen people in each precinct can control the party, and Connally’s old team could win it easily if they wanted to.” Connally, like Bush and Armstrong, would have to make a national effort without a base in elective office. “What can he run for?” one of his allies in the party asks. “Anything other than president would be a step down for him. If Tower were not to run for reelection, he might consider the Senate, but I doubt it.” Doubts about Connally, according to a knowledgeable detractor, are rooted in the simple belief that the former governor couldn’t win a statewide race. “He is not worth doodly squat to Republican candidates in Texas. He has done nothing for the party or conservative principles. He has no influence with the voterjust the corporate boards.” One of the party’s most astute former chairmen and an admirer of the man believes Connally will campaign selectively for Republican candidates in 1978. “It occurs to me that John Connally will have quite an interest in being able to point to [a Republican ] increase in the Texas congressional delegation. If he decided to do it, he could make a big difference. His interests and the party’s would coincide.” The former party chairman’s assessment of Connally’s in tent is generally shared within the Texas GOP, although many believe Connally will do more fundraising than actual campaigningat least in Texas. The bottom-line assessment of the impact of the “super stars” on the fate of Texas Republicans in 1978 comes to this: there is no prospect of any of them running for statewide office, and such assistance as they choose to give to Republican candidates will be given nationwide, not just within Texas. The potential impact on the growth of the party of a determined and coordinated effort by Armstrong, Bush and Connally apparently will be an opportunity lost. And whatever any of the three do to benefit the party in 1978 will probably be closely tied to individual assessments of how best to balance their own ambitions and personal priorities. Tower’s re -election Meanwhile, “John Tower has really cleaned up his act,” Republicans report from around the state. “He’s getting it together.” And a feared reprisal against Tower by the party’s Reagan wing because of the senator’s advocacy of Jerry Ford’s candidacy in the 1976 Texas primary has not materialized. Jack Orr, executive director of the state Republican Party, reports that GOP factionalism, evident only a year ago, is now down to “almost zero. We’re about 90 percent unified,” he says, “but we do have some growing pains.” Ernie Angelo, mayor of Midland and a leader of the Reagan forces, agrees. “I don’t see factionalism as a problem. I think it’s settled down. Senator Tower will win.” And Congressman Bill Archer sees a “healing process” underway, “especially at the top,” although he believes there is still some division at the local level. Ray Barnhart, Harris County party chairman, a Reagan leader and head of the anti-Tower faction, believes that “we’ll probably wind up with more unity in 1978 than we’ve had before.” Barnhart still sees “serious problems” within the party, but he thinks Tower will have unified his support and win re-election. “I don’t feel any personal animosity to Tower,” he said. And Tower’s staff in Houston who work regularly with Barnhart have nothing but praise for the Harris County chief. The “healing process” seen by Archer comes at an ideal time for John Tower. After a difficult past 18 months politicallythere was the humiliating defeat of Ford by Reagan in the presidential primaryand personallyhis divorce and remarriageTower might not be able to survive a divided party while seeking re-election. A continuation of the animosities of 1976 would almost certainly ensure his defeat. People close to the senator view the new Mrs. Tower as a mixed blessing. On the positive side,” one said, “he is happy THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5
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