*1\\ ENDORSEMENTS Pho to by Ro na ld Cor tes plagued with primary challenges by LaRouche candidates; the only significant primary race for a Democratic seat is between Austin Rep. Jake Pickle and Democratic challenger Nina Butts. Two Democrats are running for the chance to face Larry Combest, R-Lubbock, in the West Texas 19th District. Given the dissatisfaction in rural areas with the Reagan administration’s farm bill, it would seem that Combest would be vulnerable. Combest, a member of the House Agriculture Committee and a former staffer of Sen. John Tower, voted in favor of Reagan’s farm bill. Combest’s district also includes the oil town of Odessa, and unhappiness with the Republican response to the oil crisis may also work against him. The district had always been Democratic until Combest won it in 1984 after Kent Hance of Lubbock left the seat to run for the Senate. But neither Democratic challenger, Mary Nell Mathis, a Lubbock CPA, nor Gerald McCathern, a farmer from Hereford, is expected to come close to matching the money Combest will be able to put into the race. McCathern has been a farmer in the district for 35 years. He ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for the state senate in 1980 against Bill Sarpalius. McCathern says people in the district realize that when the agricultural and oil economy suffers, the entire district suffers. He says. Combest has voted against higher prices for agricultural producers eight separate times. “His answer to low prices is lower prices,” he says. McCathern describes himself as a conservative Democrat because of his support for “Right-to-Life” and his view that Clements, 1981 6 APRIL 18, 1986 the government should not spend more than it takes in. “I would probably be more inclined to influence the government to pay as you go,” he says. McCathern takes a populist stance on corporate farm issues, but tends to view migrant worker issues from the perspective of the farm owner. He has expressed doubts about the role of farmworkers’ advocacy groups such as Texas Rural Legal Aid. While he recognizes the need for programs for those who cannot afford to pay legal expenses, he says TRLA is a “quasi-governmental agency not answerable to any head up here.” “Because of this, in certain incidents they have run roughshod over local entities, local people, in trying to insure legal representation for their clients.” He suggests that many cases could be settled out of the courtroom “without causing dissension not only between classes but between the races.” The better Democratic candidate in this race is Mary Nell Mathis. She is also campaigning hard on the farm issue, calling for mandatory controls in planting and price supports on farmers’ costs of production. “The farm bill was obviously written by those who think in terms of volume” such as the large exporting corporations, she says. But the average farmers need supply control, not production increases. Mathis criticizes Combest for trying to defund Texas Rural Legal Aid, a position which she says she has “taken a lot of heat on.” “There’s warfare practically up here,” she says. “There is a lot of `them’ and ‘us’ in Hereford. I want to be a peacemaker. I want to bring both sides together.” She says she has asked TRLA to certify their Hereford and Plainview offices to help farmers as well as farmworkers. “Farmers are in dire straits up here,” she says, and need legal aid especially in bankruptcy cases. Mathis is the more articulate candidate and has won endorsements from the AFL-CIO and the West Texas Democrats after debates with McCathern. She has some Washington experience, having been on the national board of Common Cause. And she offers the only real chance to put a’ Democratic woman from Texas in Congress for the first time since Barbara Jordan left the House in 1978. A similar race is the race against Republican Beau Bolter in the Panhandle District 13. Bolter would appear to be vulnerable on farm issues \(like Combest, he supported the conservative Democrat and former Congressman Jack Hightower decided not to try to regain the seat. Two Democrats will be on the primary ballot in Boulter’s district: Don Stribling of Amarillo and Doug Seal, a farmer and rancher from Wellington, a town halfway between Amarillo and Wichita Falls. Doug Seal is the serious contender here. Seal says Boulter has a “disastrous voting record on agriculture. I think he prays to Herbert Hoover and David Stockman before he votes on the floor,” he says. But Boulter also spent more $306,302 than any other Texas Congressman last year. Once again, the Democratic challenger will be vastly outspent. Seal, who says the incumbent Republican is “bought and paid for like a bar of soap,” will especially feel the toll of campaign expenses in this, the secondlargest Congressional district in Texas. Nevertheless, he claims to have “key people” in 36 of the district’s 37 counties. Seal is a member of the state Democratic Executive Committee and is the best choice in this race. Another Congressional race of interest to Democrats is in the North Texas 26th District race against the far right
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