Page 7


Texas Democrats Blow the Big One Austin You had to be a Republican to get a thrill from the May 3 Texas primary. Ronald Reagan, in marvelous health thanks to the freeze-drying process administered by his advisors and secret physicians, was pitted against more or less native son George Bush to see if the Texas GOP was as far to the right in 1980 as it was in 1976. It was practically a social event for Republicans, who lord knows, could use one. Lots of determined effort, the slight fibrillation of a come-from-behind Underdog, the steady stern assurance of The Idol . . . and, as it turned out, a very close contest at the ballot box, 52/47 percent, Reagan/Bush, utterly belied by the Reagan sweep of precinct delegates because of the winner-take-all GOP delegate selection rules. Even with the Reagan delegate haul, about 61-to-19, the May primary brought a lot of attention to the Texas GOP, probably produced a few extra voters, and may lead to intra-party reforms pushed by thousands of moderate, brand new, Texas Republicans. By comparison, the Democrats ran a pretty lackluster contest. There was no campaigning by the major candidates until the final week. With the exception of Kennedy’s two-day boffo tour in South Texas and Carter’s angel of healing mission to Brooke Army Medical Center, it was real dull, y’all. And that was a damn shame. Why? Because it could have been otherwise. Unfortunately, Texas Democrats seem not to have noticed the altered nature of presidential campaigning in 1980. Sure, the technical action is in the precincts, but the battle for the hearts and minds of the voters is taking place in the media. This is where “momentum” is created, gotten, lost. This is the motivator of voters and precinct attenders. Since the beginning of the primary season, media attention devoted to small states like New Hampshire or Iowa or Ver The GOP’s new strength The Warrior Wins Texas Austin The moment it became evident the voters of Texas had handed Ronald Reagan a narrow victory over George Bush in the Republican primary, Gov. William P. Clements scrambled to declare his favorite of the party’s two remaining candidates for the presidency. That the Republican governor made the Mad Hatter’s rush to announce he would stand tall for Reagan came as a surprise to no one. Clements had said much earlier he would withhold an endorsement until after the May 3 contest, obviously not wishing to find himself on the wrong bandwagon the day after the election. The changing and as yet undefined landscape of the GOP in Texas presented Clements with a dilemma, one that made mont have disproportionately pre-conditioned the response of the public toward presidential candidates, in effect defining the terms, form and measurement of the contest before the major population areas New York, Texas, California, Ohio, etc. can have a say. Consequently, major resources have been diverted this year toward establishing this “momentum” thing, which, like it or not, has become one of the key factors in influencing voters. An early lead can be a major draw of both ballots and money. Failure to do well, even in the most minor of states and for