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Conversations with a Congressman Gonzalez of San Antonio Part I A Depression, King Crime, Nuclear Crime, and Economic Crime By Ronnie Dugger San Antonio Going for his tenth term and 20th year in the Congress this fall, Henry Gonzalez of San Antonio is probably the most secure member in the Texas delegation. He was the first Mexican-American who was a real success in Texas politics, and the average Mexican-American voter in Texas regards him with a pride that will not stand down to any criticism. Although he has a Republican opponent in November, no one has challenged him for the Democratic renomination. A voluble, volatile, gregarious man, Gonzalez conducts his highly personal politics with the same wit, iconoclasm, and flashing anger that made him a study in individuality first on San Antonio’s city council and then in the Texas Senate. He continues to be one of the state’s two or three reliably liberal conbears out the remark he recalls President Lyndon Johnson making about him in his presence, “I don’t have to worry about Henry, Henry’s for the people, Henry’s for the people.” At the local level, though, Gonzalez has made what many of his original celebrators regard as thudding compromises with the establishment. Years of personalistic infighting have made him many friends and enemies and he is dogged by stronger stereotyping images touchy, vengeful, quixotic than any other Texan in Congress. Photos by Alan Pogue THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3