,…00p RiNa 1 Sitting tight The State Democratic Executive Committee assembled in Corpus Christi on July 28 and decided not to decide yet whether they will put a presidential preference question on the May 3, 1980, Democratic primary ballot. Such influential party leaders as rules committee chairwoman Carrin Patman and national committewoman Billie Carr argued that delaying a decision on the presidential primary issue is the wisest course for the state party, and their wait-and-see plan was approved by a 34 to-21 vote. What the SDEC did decide for sure was to select the national nominating delegates at the state convention next June. The SDEC vote means that if a presidential primary is heldwhich it most certainly will be if there is a real contest next springthe party will not be bound to apportion its delegates according to the primary results. Though some committee members criticized this decision as “undemocratic,” support for other alternatives was meager: a motion to hold a binding presidential primary was defeated by a four-to-one margin, and a move to commit Texas . Democrats now to holding a nonbinding primary went down by a three-to-two margin. Patman, who engineered the victory for her rules committee plan, told SDEC members that a vote to delay a decision wasn’t a vote against a presidential primary but was the “look-before-you-leap approach.” She said later, “Obviously circumstances will dictate what we will do. Though it’s certainly likely that we’ll have a primary if there are contenders next March, we’ll have one only if there is a real race between those of national stature.” She and her allies are wary of giving any single-issue candidate a forum against the President. As Carr put it, “One thing we don’t need is a proabortion candidate, a favorite son, or even an anti-nuke candidate running against Carter.” And Patman’s careful phrase, “a real race between those of national stature,” means the same thing. The most frequently voiced criticism of the rules committee plan was that it is “embarrassing for Democrats” not to have a primary scheduled “especially since the Republicans have already committed themselves to holding a primary,” to quote SDEC member Ronnie Luna of Austin. He and fellow Austinite Nancy Williams drafted the defeated Fuming mad If you suspect that the big oil refin ers are manipulating supplies, holding you in gasoline lines while forcing prices up, imagine the skepticism of those in the line pictured here. These are Shell Oil refinery workers who have just come off a shift at the Deer Park plant, where they make gasoline. For weeks, they have been forced to wait in long lines to get gas at the company-owned station, which is located right outside the refinery gate. Meanwhile, the major refiners have just announced the highest secondquarter profits in their history. Bear. in mind that 1978 was a very good year for them, but 1979 is a bonanzaExxon re proposal to make a final decision now in favor of a nonbinding primary. An immediate commitment to a binding primary was the wish of SDEC member Millie Bruner of Dallas, who says that anything else is a sham calculated to fool would-be Democratic voters. Patman countered Bruner’s argument with a position paper quoting various political scientists on the subject of binding versus nonbinding primaries. The professors say the difference makes no difference to the voters. Patman’s paper also went on to list some nonbinding primaries that had significant impactthe 1968 New Hampshire primary that had much to do with President Lyndon Johnson’s withdrawal from the race, for example. But the outcome on Bruner’s motion ports a 26 percent gain, Amoco profits are up 36 percent, Mobil up 38 percent, Conoco up 40 percent, Phillips up 44 percent, Shell up 55 percent, Sun up 57 percent, Chevron up 61 percent, Gulf up 65 percent, Cities Service up 90 percent, Texaco up 132 percent, and Fina up 162 percent. Through their PR departments, the oil companies have been trying to persuade Americans that these profits are not out of line and not even enough. But, as reported in the National Petroleum News, an industry publication, “It’s difficult to keep a long look on your face when you feel like breaking out with the silly gig gles.” was never in doubt, because the SDEC was sold all along on the convention method of delegate selection. Ironically, certain national party rules for 1980 make it more likely that outsider candidates can get their rightful proportion of the delegates in a convention than in a binding primary \(more on this in a forthcoming issue of the And SDEC progressives, who now have a solid majority on the committee, can see clearly that the plan they endorsed in Corpus Christi will be much more useful to their cause. As Billie Can put it, “The conservatives are not the party activists and we are. We as activists fare better in the convention system, and we’re going to win this time.” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11 Vicki Vaughan
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