Vice President Walter Mondale COPE might be inclining back toward the Carter camp. If so, Carter, whose labor record is soft, can credit his running mate. “In 20 years, I have never run without endorsement of the AFL-CIO and I’ve never lost an election yet,” beamed Mondale, looking fit and chipper and proud as punch of his Austin reception. Perhaps the only time he got a bigger accolade was in his tribute to former Senate colleague Ralph Yarborough. Mondale probably senses his usefulness to Carter as well as the difficulty in defending Carter’s labor policies, but he pointed to what he said were the pluses for labor since 1976: rehabilitation of the Nixon-wracked OSHA program; endorsement of common situs picketing; bill through the balky Senate and vailing wage legislation. Mondale also claimed administration credit for a rise of 733,000 jobs in Texas since 1976, a boast that might better be attributed to economic shifts that the government is powerless to affect. Nonetheless, Mondale seemed to believe it, and his audience gave him the benefit of the doubt, when he proclaimed, “I know a progressive when I see one and Jimmy Carter is a progressive president of the United States of America.” By comparison, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, also invited to speak, received a greeting so cold it chilled the press table. Throughout the gruesome silence that greeted all Bentsen’s remarks \(except the stray offering about American workobvious the grey-templed patron had about as much business talking to workers as they might have voting for him \(he’s not up for re-election this year, Bentsen’s remarks sounded like they’d been bought at a second-hand speechwriting clinic at the Columbia School of Broadcasting. Buried in condescending plaints about how tough it is these days to make ends meet, Bentsen said what the economy really needs is more capital investment so American workers can have better machines and thus be more productive, etc. When finished, Bentsen gamely pressed the flesh of the COPE hierarchy on the speaker’s stage and left, his presumed fealty to the Administration mercifully ended. Besides Mondale, the COPE delegates heard short speeches from most of the candidates seeking statewide office in 1980. Jim Hightower, who left these luxurious offices to try to throw some of the rascals out of the Texas Railroad Commission, did well, not only outclassing incumbent Commisioner Jim . “Snake” Nugent but also persuading the laborites to grant him their endorsement. It was a clear plus for the Hightower campaign, as was the endorsement by COPE for Rep. Buddy Temple in his effort against the other incumbent commissioner facing election, John Poerner. There was a good deal less unanimity about Temple’s selection than Hightower’s though. Wayne Aldridge, an Austin carpenter, complained that it seemed very strange for working people to endorse Temple, who has a net worth of about $1.5 million and whose father, Arthur Temple of Time, Inc., runs a blatantly anti-union paper mill at Diboll. But D. L. Willis, a member of the COPE executive committee, said the younger Temple shouldn’t have to pay for his father’s sins and that anyway he had an excellent AFL-CIO voting record in the state legislature. COPE took a conservative tack on judicial endorsements, selecting all the incumbents for the Court of Criminal Appeals. Harry Hubbard, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, said labor had a good “rapport” with the incumbents and ought to stick with them. There was some small disquiet about supporting Leon Douglas for Place 1, based in part on his dissenting opinion in a labor case, but no one appeared before the COPE executive committee to voice objection. COPE members were given a list of all upcoming state electoral contests, but there will be no endorsements from the state level for legislative or other district races. Nor will there be an endorsement for the presidency, at the direction of the national AFL-CIO, Mondale’s showstopper notwithstanding. Rod Davis THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7
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