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Five for the mansion Top: Dolph Briscoe, Preston Smith, John Hill Bottom: Steve Fromholz, Ray Hutchison 1111110110111111r 4311111111.1111111 It’s only October, but somebody must have left the gate open, for a whole stable of gubernatorial candidates is loose already. First out was former governor Preston Smith, of all people, announcing his candidacy in Austin on Sept. 13. Smith, who returned to his ‘native Lubbock after a trouncing in the 1972 Democratic primary, said he is making a comeback in politics “because I want to be governor of Texas again.” Why us, Lord? Smith’s most interesting move so far has been to designate himself treasurer of his own election bid. The following day, former state representative Ray Hutchison of Dallas bolted into, the limelight, not exactly announcing for governor, but resigning his post as chairman of Texas’ Republican Party and saying he will take a hard look at a run for his party’s gubernatorial nomination. His main concern, he says, is the party’s ability to raise enough money to back him for a good shot at the mansion. Next came Atty. Gen. John Hill. In a capitol press conference on Sept. 19, Hill sounded his theme that Gov. Dolph Briscoe is dumb at best, dangerous at worst, and certainly unfit for a ten-year rule. The AG has raised $420,000 already and shows signs of mounting a serious challenge, despite Comptroller Bob Bullock’s assessment that the one-time plaintiff’s lawyer “hasn’t got a prayer.” But then Bullock is in a tiff with his former friend, and, besides, he wants to run for governor himself four years from now. What about Dolph? While he has not made a formal announcement of candidacy, the governor has said in two press conferences that he will run for a third term, which would make him the state’s first governor-for-a-decade if the voters go along. Money will not be his problem. First, he is rich enough to buy all the other candidates without so much as a cosigner on the note. Second, he told the Observer last January that a non-public fundraiser on a ranch neighboring his in Uvalde County had pulled in more than $1 million. Third, he is planning such a blowout in Dallas on Nov. 7 that camels might have to be brought in to haul off the booty. But Briscoe does have one flaw: the governor is telling anyone who will listen that he plans to run on his record, and that may be the best thing his challengers have going for them. Speaking of records, there’s a wildcard candidate coming forward who might stir things up a bit. Steve Fromholz, popular country singer and movie star, told a Sept. 8 Houston gathering that he plans to run for governor. The Copperas Cove native says that none of the other characters is speaking the language of average Texans, and he’s going to run as an “ambassador to the people.” Fromholz’s agent, Angela Campbell, says the singer is serious, although not yet sure if he’ll seek the nomination of a party or “run as a free agent.” Stay tuned for the Johnnie Mae Hackworthe announcement. Making the rounds What was Sen. Bill Patman doing recently in San Patricio County? Pressing the flesh and making other candidate-like gestures, is what. While San Patricio lies outside Patman’s 18th senatorial district, both it and his home county of Jackson are in the 14th congressional district represented by scandal-plagued U.S. Rep. John Young. Patman claims he currently has no plans to make the primary race against admits that people throughout the 14th district have approached him about running. “I can’t help but be interested in the job,”he concedes. An even stronger sign that Patman will indeed be in the running: Carrin Patman, member of the State Democratic Executive Committee and the senator’s wife, has changed her negative attitude about moving to Washington and is encouraging her husband to test the congressional waters. News flash Having cut the mustard in Albany, then Wrestled the Big Apple to a draw, ace New York Timeswoman Molly Ivins has been detailed by the superpaper to Denver, where she will reign as Rocky Mountain bureau chief. “Reason I am chief,” Ivins says in a recent dispatch to her former Observer colleagues, “is on account of I am only one in bureau.” Last we heard, she was pointed west, belting out, “Thank God I’m a country girl.” The 1977 elections With jockeying already underway among candidates for 1978’s big po litical prizes, it is easy to overlook elections that are just around the corner perhaps to their surprise, Texans are invited -to the polls again on Nov. 8. Seven constitutional amendments are among the statewide ballot attractions this year, with the offerings ranging from voter approval of computerized branch banking to a property tax exemption for certain historical sites. While some of the proposals have far-reaching implications for Texans, experience teaches that 300,000 votes will be enough to put over or defeat any of them. Houston will hold city-wide elections to replace retiring Mayor Fred Hofheinz, choose a successor to former controller Leonel Castillo \(who resigned last spring to become director of the U.S. Immigrapick from among eight incumbents and at least 11 challenges for eight city council seats. Despite the enthusiasm of some of the candidates, Houston voters appear to 111111111M .1011111110111 ilICE’L.IIIMMIL-IMS11411.111,2MIMMItalgaN