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Again The Texas delegation at Madison Square Garden; to the right of the standard, State Party Chairman Billy Goldberg; to the left, Executive Director Garry Mauro. gether behind a Carter-Mondale ticket? Would farmers? Would Carter supporters themselves, only placidly enthusiastic at the party’s state convention, warm to him during a general election campaign? Texas stands at a critical point for the Democratic Party this year, both nationally and at home. In the last decade the Republican Party has made steady gains toward becoming the state’s political nouveau riche. Having already made significant inroads into Texas state government, they are continuing their drive in this election by targeting several Democratic congressional seats, among them Bob Eckhardt’s Eighth District in Houston, and as many as 19 state legislative seats. Along with huge financial reserves aimed at Democratic candidates, the GOP has a presidential ticket with the additional, however slight, influence of a native son in vice presidential nominee George Bush, which could very possibly create something of a coat-tail effect at the state level. According to various polls in the weeks after the Republican National Convention in Detroit, Reagan had between a 7 and 10 percent lead over Carter among the Texas electorate. Reagan’s political analysts, studying their computer predictions, were counting Texas in as a solid state for the GOP ticket in November. In reality, however, 10 percentage points can’t be measured as a comfortable margin, particularly at such an early stage. Several weeks ago Chester Upham, chairman of the state GOP, indicated wariness on that point. “We’re running scared,” he had said, adding that the Republicans were expecting, and preparing for, a very hard campaign against Carter in Texas. Asked about the Reagan lead, John Hill, in New York, said, “I don’t think that’ll hold. I think our state is a Democratic state. We’re still the majority party.” Garry Mauro, executive director of the State Democratic Party, said he wasn’t particularly troubled by the results of the early polls, and in counterpoint to the widespread assertion that Bush would have a major impact, possibly as an attraction for conservative, crossover Democratic votes, he reminded that Bush had lost two races in Texas as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Mauro went on to say that for a number of reasons he felt the Democrats were in good shape for the campaign; that they had a fair amount of money coming in, that their computer operation was sound, and that an effective voter registration drive was in the making. Much of the talk among Texas Democrats at the convention, however, gave the clear indication that they were, if not worried, at least concerned about the question of unity. More than once I heard it expressed that if every Democratic vote in Texas weren’t cast for Carter, he would have difficulty carrying the state. Moreover, losses at the state and congressional levels might result, opening the gates for a Republican tide of lasting duration. Texas is critical to the Democratic Party not only because it is THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3