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VIC HINTERLANG Rep. Lena Guerrero directed Richards’s efforts story: Mattox 10 percent, White 29 percent, Richards 36 percent. “The poll results are not right,” Mattox said at the convention. He added: “You talk to these people out here and they’ll tell you it’s not right.” This last point was not an empty claim. As the convention opened, it was clear that Mattox had a majority of the delegates on his side. Organized labor is considered a base for Mattox. A former U.S. congressman and state legislator, the attorney general had a voting record against which a state treasurer and a former governor could not compete. Conceded Richards: “Of course they’re going to play on his record.” While Richards could count on the support of teachers, communication workers, and public employees, Mattox would receive his most resolute support from iron Workers, steel workers, and teamsters. \(Support did not break down along strict regional lines. But Richards counted strong support among delegates from Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. Mattox recorded a strong showing among delegates from Dallas and the Golden But if it was clear that Mattox could capture a majority of the vote, it appeared equally certain he would not receive the two-thirds of the vote needed for an AFL-CIO endorsement. Richards’s goal was to ensure that the convention make no endorsement. And no endorsement would be made if Mattox failed to receive two-thirds of the vote. Mattox pushed for the endorsement anyway. He anxiously worked the crowd, shaking hands and calling in favors. Richards also pressed the flesh, but with less urgency. For only a brief moment, hours before the floor fight, Mattox stood alone in a hallway filled with delegates, campaign workers, and candidates. “I don’t know who to work,” he said, staring intently into the crowd. “I don’t know where to go.” By the time the floor fight heated up, Richards had left the auditorium, leaving her campaign to staff call the shots. Mattox remained. Sitting, looking tired and pale, with one leg resting on a table, he issued commands into a two-way radio. Said Mattox campaign Field Director Billy Horton: “We’ve got some of the biggest labor leaders in the state pushing Jim Mattox. There’s a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of internal politics going both ways. It’s like a tug of war.” MINUTES BEFORE TEXAS AFL-CIO President. Joe Gunn opened the final session of the convention, the session where the endorsement would be decided, Richards campaign manager Glenn Smith threw his arm around his candidate. “We’ve got the votes,” he told Richards. And then Richards forces fired the first volley. A Richards floor leader proposed dividing the question. Endorsements at the COPE convention come to the floor in a single resolution, drafted by one committee and approved by another. The committee resolution included a recommendation to endorse Mattox, as well as committee recommendations for endorsements in other primary races. By dividing the question, the Richards camp sought to separate the governor’s race from less-controversial contests, such as endorsements for attorney general and U.S. senator. Since the fight between the gubernatorial candidates would dominate the debate, Richards wanted to avoid appearing the spoiler in other contests, said Richards floor leader Lena Guerrero. The Richards campaign was eager to make Mattox appear the heavy who would cram the endorsement down the convention’s throat no matter what the costs. Richards’s move was part of a broader . strategy to paint Mattox as the aggressor, and perhaps to reinforce his image as a heavy handed political brawler. At the COPE convention, Mattox’s tough-guy image seemed to increase his popularity in some quarters. “The people identify with the guy, his personality, his record of being a people’s legislator,” said Mickey P. Morris, director of education for the Texas State Association of Letter Carriers. “I’m kind of a tough-person person myself.” But Mattox’s tough-guy image. is often mentioned as a factor in his poor showing in the polls; his unpolished style is seen as reinforcing his negative image. Richards benefits from reinforcing that image. By adopting a no-endorsement position, she was pragmatic. Recognizing that she didn’t have the votes for an endorsement, she took a neutral position that allowed a contrast to be made between her and her opponent. “He is extremely vindictive,” said Ellen’ Richards, the candidate’s daughter. “And if THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13