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say.’ Things like that will count, Hall told the Observer, when Gammage comes back to ask for help. Hall explained that while the black community understands Gammage must make some compromises to broaden his base in the district, “he ought not neglect the community that put him there in the first place.” Will Hall back Gammage next year? “It’d be unfair to say I wouldn’t support him. I just don’t know at this point. I suspect I may not do anything.” In a close race, enthusiasm is crucial. Faced with a choice between Ron Paul and Bob Gammage. liberals would certainly go with Gammage. But it’s not that simple, as Billie Carr explained. “He assumes that liberals and labor will support him next time around, but I think a lot of people will stay home.” If Gammage’s support among blacks and white liberals is in fact softening, he could be in serious trouble. If he loses labor, he’ll be doomedand some union leaders are a little skeptical about his performance. Labor worked hard for Gammage in the last election, and has kept a close eye on him since. 0. D. Kenemore of the Brazoria County AFL-CIO says, “We feel like he’s gone too far to the conservative side of the picture, as far as labor’s concerned. Our people get real enthusiastic when somebody’s with them, and that enthusiasm’s going to slip. We recognize he needs to broaden his support, but he’s moved too far. I don’t know of anybody who’s saying I’m not going to vote for Bob,’ and nobody in the AFL-CIO is going to get on a Ron Paul bandwagonbut it’s a question of degree.” Will all this hinder his fundraising for 1978? “It’s got to hurt some. It has to. Calvin Harrison was slightly more sanguine. “I don’t see him with any great trouble. He may have some, he very well may have. But he hasn’t lost labor yet. Unless he really goes a long wayand he mightwe’ll stick with him.” Next year’s 22nd district race promises to be every bit as close as last year’s cliff-hanger, and Gammage will need all the friends he can get. Says Sandy Tally, “If the election were held today, Bob Gammage would walk right back in.” Tally seems to be the only one who thinks so. If he doesn’t mend his fences, one observer said, he’ll “probably drop.” Another offered, “I’m inclined to think he’ll lose.” Even Tally admits Gammage has “visibility problems in the black community. “I really think he’s hurt himself,” Billie Carr concludes. “Whether it’s irreparable damage. I don’t know. He doesn’t seem to understand that he needs people, people don’t need him.” Laura Richardson Letter … from page 2 penitential exercise consciously and faithfully performed. We celebrate ourselves as “a journal of free voices,” but to our detractors \(and to some of our friends; it’s often hard to tell who is what without a prohome of lost causes, a liberal antique. What we in fact propose to do through the Observer is frame the liberalprogressive argument in the state’s political and economic life. In Texas, this is to aspire to much, of course, and there are days when our task seems one of desperate, irremediable sadness. You work your cerebral cortex to the bone, and what does the Legislature do but run amok, making chili the state dish, laetrile a legal drug, and the intravenous injection of some lethal substance the approved means of execution in capital cases. It can get you down if you don’t remember to wink from the page from time to time. I suppose I should try to draw some categorical comparisons between the two states, Vermont and Texas, but duty calls. I’ll let the important contrasts suggest themselves: there you are with only one congressman to worry about, in a state with only one escalator* to get your toe stuck in, and the forces of darkness made up principally of the snowmobile lobby; here I am in Texas, a state with a congressional delegation 24 strong in the U.S. House, plenty of escalators, and the spell of oil cast over everything. You have Quebec to the north, ski chalet kitsch, and the Trapp Family Lodge; we have Mexico to the south, a tyrannical, instant-adobe architecture, and the Judge Roy Bean Museum. In Austin every other year sits a Legislature of bold and uncomplicated mediocrity, a body vindictive and timorous by turns; in Montpelier, by contrast \(and it’s with some reluctance that I advance a good word about the Vermont House and continent collection of lawmakers. Our Democrats make your Republicans look very sexy. Such are the politics here. I should say something about Texas liberals, our magazine’s traditional clientele, and certainly the most inbred and gathersome group of political creatures I’ve ever come across. In a state of 13 million people, they all seem to know one another; they practice law together, travel surprising distances to ship alcohol together \(beer is the anodyne that to cut rather disproportionately large figures against the Texas sky. They share election day hurts and a powerful sense of embattlement. I found your questions about my per sonal life extraordinarily rude. Outside of the office, I conduct myself in a most grammatical way. No Petronian revels for me. It would be hard to overestimate the extent to which Observer work dominates the waking hours of those on the staff box. My chief amusements consist of outings to the laundromat, to a nearby Safeway, and to the University of Texas where, three afternoons a week, I try to teach juniors and seniors not to say regretfully when they mean regrettably. My English students look like golf and tennis pros; what’s worse, most of them tell me they want to go to law school. You ask about the weather, my “acculturation” and health. If it’s any comfort to you, and I bet it is, the temperatures of Hell are still solidly established in this part of Texas, though it is almost fall. As for my “acculturation,” I’ve developed a terrible craving for some of the local fare, especially an entirely inedible, gray and glutinous atrocity called a chicken4ried steak. But there I draw the line: I wear neither cowboy hats nor boots, and I have permitted myself no regional solecisms, leastways I don’t think I have. My health? I’m going to pieces here in the tropics. It remains my unscientific conviction that one can mitigate the effects of beer, bile and overwork on an abominably martyred body with exercise, but my trips to the quarter-mile track at Memorial Stadium haven’t done the job; in the mirror I am confrOnted with the thickening trunk of a ruined athlete. The stadium! So much of Texas comes together there. Running, once a simple ceremony of innocence and discipline, has taken on the aspect of a political rite for me. The university keeps the track open for late-night joggers, leaving them to work their way around the oval with a minimum of artificial light. I am very much taken with the effect. To the south, through the open end of the stadium, shows that citadel of human imperfection, the Texas Capitol. Over the rim of the north stands Lyndon Johnson’s pharaohnic library is visible, as is the university’s Main Building, from whose open tower Whitman, the ex-marine, shot 16 people dead with a deer rifle 11 years ago last month. That’s more unhappy architecture than rundown editors and overweight associate professors of physics need to take in while jogging, but what if Winston Churchill was right when he said somewhere that, “We create our buildings, and then our buildings create us”? I think on that. This is how things are with me. Life is hard, journalism is hell, but Texas is all right. L.W. * In the J.C. Penney’s store on Main Street, Burlington