The Observer found considerable support among rank-and-file delegates to the July 22-25 Texas AFL-CIO convention for a race by Jim Hightower for the Democratic nomination for governor next year. While Hightower is considering announcing “sometime in September” for state agriculture commissioner, his political “literature” distributed at the federation meeting specified no office, and his Austin political headquarters is listed, also non-specifically, as “The Hightower Campaign.” Hightower told the Observer that, given the support demonstrated, he planned to “talk with Harry \(Hubbard, AFL-CIO Texas labor’s hierarchy apparently is cool toward the notion of a Hightower gubernatorial run: . A highly-placed AFL-CIO staffer called such a race “unrealistic.” The same source, declining attribution, said he expected a replay of the 1978 Democratic primary former Atty. Gen. John Hill vs. former Gov. Dolph Briscoe. The source acknowledged that labor split when given that choice in 1978. Hill was absent from the convention so was Briscoe. The source said also that Texas AFL-CIO might “sit out” the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Land Cmsr. Bob Armstrong reiterated at the convention his intention not to seek statewide office next year. Atty. Gen. Mark White, understood to be panting after the Democratic nomination for governor, was mute about his intentions. Considerable anti-White sentiment was evident among Mexican-Americans at the convention, stemming from White’s opposition to federal court orders on bilingual education. Openly campaigning at the convention for his re-election was Comptroller Bob Bullock. Garry Mauro, announced candidate for land commis sioner, was represented by sheaves of “literature.” Mauro, who expects to be running against House Speaker Billy Clayton, held a strategy session recently with Waco’s Bernard Rapoport, the Observer learned. Iconoclast Mike Etheridge of Houston and Wimberley, longtime gentle agitator for progressive causes in Texas, passed out 1,500 bumper stickers. Printed at Etheridge’s expense, the stickers read: “WANTED: Democrats with Guts.” Etheridge also agitated for a Hightower gubernatorial run. While the membership of most state labor federations has been static or in decline, Texas AFL-CIO is growing, federation officials pointed out. AFLCIO Secretary-Treasurer Joe Gunn said Texas membership is now 300,000, up from 266,000 two years ago, a 17% increase. Affiliation with the state federation by local unions and other labor organizations is also up by 96% over 1969, Gunn said. AFL-CIO President Harry Hubbard told the Observer that the Texas United Auto Workers will be reaffiliating with the state federation fairly soon. He said he has received recent assurances to that effect from UAW officials. Texas UAW membership is about 20,000. Total union membership, in and out the state federation, now adds up to more than 700,000, Gunn said. L.J. At the Convention Rank-and-File Sentiment Favors Hightower for Governor Congressional Redistricting Austin The Democrats have lost in their bid to create few if any new Republican congressional districts; in their bid to save Cong. Ralph Hall of Rockwall in the 4th district and Bill Patman of Ganado in the 14th; and in any bid for what they could view as a “Democratic Party” redistricting plan they have lost. There were some good attempts to turn the tide. In the House, Democratic loyalists persisted long enough to recommit a House bill viewed as “too Republican.” But after a new plan quickly came out of committee, too quickly to make anyone comfortable, a new plan awaited the loyalist Democrats. Proposed by Speaker Billy Clayton himself, the plan plausibly would create even more Republican districts than the originally recommitted one. With the gavel sounding loudly for Clayton’s side, the plan passed minutes before the final deadline for sending bills to the Senate during the special session. With some 36 hours left, and with Democratic loyalist Senators realizing the futility of resistance, the Senate concurred with Clayton’s plan. “The House By Ruperto Garcia took a sorry bill and ruined it,” said Sen. Carl Parker of Port Arthur. Said Rep. Craig Washington of Houston, “The plan could elect 18 Democrats and nine Republicans, one more Republican than the original Senate plan.” The real fight had been in the House. While Republicans had voted consistently with their party, it was the Democrats voting with them who gave Republicans the victory. The plans’ critical differences concerned whether to create adjacent districts for Republicans or districts Democrats had a fighting chance to win. Creating “swing districts,” potentially available to either party, never seemed plausible with Democrats voting for the Republican districts. It was the appeals to the renegade Democrats that held most of the attention. Looking like a man who had not understood events of the day, Rep. John Bryant of Dallas went to the microphone and said: “We don’t want to get rid of conservatives within the Democratic Party. . . . You voted with Republicans today. . . . We have 36 Democrats who have voted since the first day of the legislative session with the Republicans.” And then after a pause: “When do you become Democrats? … You have an obligation to stand up to the rich who are trying to eliminate the Democratic Party,” he concluded. From the 36 whom he accused there were no signs of protest or defense. “There’s no way that I could vote for a bill that looks like a Clements bill and smells like a Clements bill . . . because it stinks,” said Rep. Smith Gilley of Greenville. After he spoke, as he walked to his seat, those Democrats that had stood by the party reached out and shook his hand. Rep. Tim Von Dohlen’s plan, which made it plausible for only 19 Democrats to be elected while creating three new probably Republican districts for a total of eight Republican seats, was the plan originally adopted by the House on a 76-67 vote. Seven members were absent. His plan was dubbed the Houseside “Republican” plan by other Democrats. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5
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