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Americans to win Democratic nominations for local office in a number of counties. Karol Phelan acknowledges one “problem area” for Hightower at the moment. That is San Antonio, where Nugent has won the support of popular County Judge Albert Bustamante and the outright endorsement of moderate-liberal State Sen. Bob Vale. To Nugent campaign chief Dwayne Holman, the political map naturally looks altogether different. He claims to have Nugent campaign coordinators in the 115 most populous counties. “I doubt that we’ll spend a bunch of money,” he says. He doesn’t believe Hightower has pre-empted the sources of moderate and progressive Democratic strength. Nugent has the support not only of Bustamante and Vale, he notes, but also of people like black State Rep. Wilhelmina Delco of Austin and former Texas Secretary of State Steve Oaks of Houston. Holman says that the Hightower-Nugent race “is not going to be a high-media profile campaign.” But Holman’s candidate has been running hard and his media profile has been raised of late by a spate of RRC news releases and press conferences. While obviously trying to ignore his opponent as much as possible, Nugent has had to react to Hightower’s charges against the commission. When he formally announced his candidacy, Nugent was greeted with questions from reporters about those charges, and he prefaced his specific responses by saying, “Let me give you the facts. It would be nice to inject some of those into his statements.” His speech also decried “those tellers of fairy tales who think we can talk our way out, blame our way out, or dream our way out” of the energy crunch. Nugent has been trying another angle of counterattack against Hightower in some parts of the state. Last November in Amarillo, for example, he took Hightower to task for accepting campaign contributions from “special interest liberals and socialist party members” who sponsored Hightower fundraisers in Washington. These “northeastern special interest groups,” Nugent said, “are interested in having someone on the commission who would be interested in energy issues, who would benefit their region of the country.” Nugent said he wouldn’t take money from out-of-state interests. \(As a matter of fact, though, he hasfrom Oklahoma, Louisiana, Colorado, and Nugent’s Amarillo speech and other public statements damning Yankees for coveting Texas energy resources show how he would like to frame the issues in the campaign. But one potential embarrassment for Nugent in pursuing this strategy is that the voters to whom it appeals the most are probably going to be voting in the Republican primary in May. There is every likelihood that the Republican presidential race will be red-hot then; particularly if John Connally is still in it, a massive cross-over of conservatives to the Republican primary is certain. Thanks to the Killer Bees of the ’79 Legislature, those cross-over voters cannot cross back to help out conservative Democrats like Nu gent. Hightower is counting heavily on that and expects Nugent to wage a costly “saturation name identification” campaign to win primary votes without much emphasis on issues. Though they may view it with alarm, other political observers agree with Hightower’s assessment of the effect of the Republican primary and Nugent’s consequent need for lots of moneyespecially since Nugent has never run statewide before. As Fred Bonavita of the Houston Post has reported, one source told him that “Hightower is getting a lot of press, and his candidacy is helping Nugent raise money.” And Nugent is getting flattering coverage that won’t hurt his fundraising prospects a bit from at least one Texas magazineTIPRO Reporter, the house organ of the independent oilmen’s lobby \(Texas Independent Producers and Indeed, Nugent’s broadside aimed at Hightower’s fundraising in Washington was an echo of an article by TIPRO president Chet Upham in the Fall 1979 issue of the magazine. On a two page spread, Upham laid out the argument *’_,mot Yankee conToby Moffett of Conhecticut are putting up their own candidate for the RRC: “Their man is Jim Hightower.” Upham claimed that these anti-Texas types are “raising $250,000 to buy a onethird share” of the commission \(Hightower says about 10 perwarned: “Texas can’t afford the destruction of a Texas institution.” Somewhat impishly, Hightower is pointing out the close resemblance between Upham’s rhetoric and Nugent’s, letting people draw their own conclusions as to why the commissioner and the oil lobby seem to be speaking with one voice. The Republicans . Oilman Upham is playing a double role in the Railroad Cornmission races this year. His article for TIPRO Reporter clearly marked him as a partisan of the status quo at the RRC. Yet he also happens to be chairman of the state Republican Party, and in that capacity Upham promised GOP party-builders last year that he would recruit two excellent RRC candidates against the incumbent Democrats. Upham has told the Observer that he did indeed recruit two such candidates. But the one who filed for Poerner’s seat, Houston accountant and Harris County GOP treasurer Frank Steed, literally misplaced his filing fee, submitting it to the local party rather than the state party office. So Steed is out of it. The other candidate Upham claims to have recruited, the one who filed for Nugent’s seat unopposed, is former Democratic State Sen. Doc Blanchard. Blanchard, formerly of Lubbock, has been practicing law in Austin lately and doing a wee bit of lobbying, but Observer readers will remember him best as a very conservative senator who fought financial disclosure reform in the post-Sharistown Legislature before he was defeated by Kent Hance in the Democratic primary in 1974. Blanchard is running as a Republican, he says, because “I’m convinced I’m more at home” in a more conservative party. He anticipates that . Hightower and Nugent will “knock each other around” a bit in the Democratic primary. What sort of campaign will he conduct in the general election? “I’m just going to run as old Doc,” he says cheerily. \(Blanchard suffered from serious heart trouble during his last years in the Senate, but he says he The misfortune that befell chairman Up-ham’s choice for the Poerner seat leaves three other Republicans in that race. One of them is E. W. “Billy” Kidd, a Weatherford auto dealer described by Upham as a civic-minded “conservative Republican.” Upham did not recruit Billy Kidd. Another is former GOP gubernatorial candidate Hank Grover, whose most recent political foray was an abortive challenge of U.S. Sen. John Tower in the ’78 primary. Upham definitely did not recruit Hank Grover. “I don’t think that man could do anything that would surprise me,” Upham says. “Whereas I didn’t encourage it, I’m not disappointed,” says the chairman of Grover’s last-minute filing. One thing Grover offers the GOP is a well-known political name, which ought to be enough to win him the nomination if he can curb his inclination to antagonize fellow Republicans. But Grover can expect a spirited challenge from another Republican candidate who also has some statewide name recognition. That’s John Thomas Henderson, a retired businessman from Austin who polled over a half-million votes in the Democratic primary in ’78 as a consumer candidate against Mack Wallace. As Republican State Rep. Chase Untermeyer of Houston drily observed, “When I saw that Henderson was not going to take industry money, I assumed he was . not Chet Upham’s choice for the race.” Henderson is indeed running again as “a consumers’ advocate,” financing a shoestring campaign entirely out of his own pocket. He filed as a Republican this time around “because the members of the Railroad Commission who have made so many rulings unfavorable to the citizens are all Democrats.” Fair enough. 0 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7