JOHN HILL brings his campaign to Cluny Homes near Texas Southern
University's Campus. Hill recently spent a day touring shopping centers
and housing projects to talk with voters.
equal rights and equal opportunity."
But the best Hill could manage before
the state's AFL-CiO was a draw-"praise"
for Hill and a "recommendation" for
And in Houston, the blacks, too, are
split. The Harris County Council of Organizations and the Black Organization for
Leadership Development went for Hill,
two black ministers' groups for Briscoe.
A wild-card factor is what Texas
Monthly has called the race's "mini-
scandal." The Governor's Office of Migrant Affairs is being investigated for
massive inefficiency by the Travis County
district attorney, with the help of Hill's
assistants. It has spent $3.9 million but
found jobs for only 384 workers.
Briscoe has retaliated with an audit of
Hill's organized crime task force, which
technically is also part of the governor's
office. It has infuriated Hill since it
forced him to withdraw his top investigator from the GOM A task force.
Hill has reached that political plateau
of "cautious optimism," but in a state
where Pappy O'Daniel and Ma Ferguson
can win, anything can happen.
Which brings us to the weirdo candidates in the Democratic primary. Preston
Smith of Lubbock, an arch-conservative
whose governorship (1969-73) one would
have thought would make even Briscoe's
act look good, is trying to see how many
Texans are foolish enough to want to return him to office-possibly enough for a
Then there's Ray Allen Mayo, a transplanted New Yorker who is on a hunger
strike to dramatize his beef that Hill and
Briscoe are advocating "too much socialism." Finally, we have Donald R. Beagle
of Nederland, a leader in Men's Equality
Now International, a group interested in
child custody for divorced men.
There is another game in Texas. It's
called the Republican primary. It pits
state party chairman Ray Hutchison of
Dallas against Bill Clements, a Dallas industrialist who is spending oodles of
money on the battle.
Despite Hutchison's friction with national GOP leaders, for such things as
boycotting a Houston fundraiser key-
noted by Panama Canal "give-away" supporter Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee,
and despite his ill-fated 1976 support of
Gerald Ford over Ronald Reagan, Hutchison knows and has many friends among
party regulars. As Texas Monthly's Paul
Burka points out, Clements, Ford's deputy defense secretary, is in no position to
capitalize on the Jerry-Ronnie point.
A third and unknown Republican,
Clarence Thompson of Fort Worth, is believed to have no bearing on the race.
There is one thing about Texas' Republicans worth liberals' consideration;
it's an argument that comes up nearly
every election. It runs like this: Texas is decidedly a one-party state,
Democrat, and as a result, liberals don't
have as much power as they might. Libs
may run in the primaries, but they nearly
always lose to conservative Democrats.
So, the devious liberal says, let's teach
those backward pols a lesson and vote
even more reactionary, namely Republican, and hope they win. That way, the
theory goes, the conservatives will see a
party more to their ideological liking has
But that scheme, aimed at encouraging
switches by the Democrats' most right-
wing members to give the liberals a better
chance at nominating one of their own
next time, is best considered in November.
sometimes wont to call themselves, are a-
gain in a quandry. As The Texas Observer
points out, "The prospect (of Hill as governor) bothers some progressives, who
fear that Hill is, at bottom, a smart, aggressive conservative, potentially far more
dangerous than the bumbling, witless
But if Hill is not a bona fide progressive, he is at least open to innovation.
And, importantly, Hill is a "viable" candidate.
The polls, of which there have been
many, some tainted by pollsters' support
of Hill, show Hill ahead or neck and neck.
Hill is an adept politician and has been
able to whittle down his opponent's support in some key areas. A trip to Washington to talk to striking Texas farmers
did much toward neutralizing one of the
governor's strongest blocs.
Hill has won support-and money—
from some mainly conservative sources,
too. Two big Houston law firms political
action committees, those of Baker &
Botts and Vinson & Elkins(John Connal-
ly's firm), have given about evenly to
Briscoe and Hill.
But Dolph was able to raise with one
ranch gathering as much as Hill's entire
war chest-$1 million. And Briscoe got
the big bucks from such outfits as the
Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee and the Texas Medical Political
For Hill to win, he will have to carry
handily the liberals and the big city vote,
most experts agree. That could be a problem.
Hill has won the endorsements of the
Texas State Teachers Association (for
support of pay equal to the national average) and the Texas Women's Political
Caucus. Hill's women's support group is
considerably more potent than the Briscoe Ladies. And the Caucus' vice chairperson, Anita Lang, said "Hill has shown
over and over again his commitment to
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