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Politics: Runoff in Texas

3 minute read

Across Texas, the political billboards were coming down. Six Democrats had been campaigning for Governor—but now, after a primary in which more than 1,400.000 voters turned out, the field was down to two. On June 2, former Navy Secretary John Connally, 45, and Houston Lawyer Donald Yarborough, 36, will collide again in a runoff.

Connally, a Fort Worth lawyer, was expected all along to do well. After a quarter century of campaigning for Lyndon Johnson, Connally had a good grasp of Texas politics and a long list of friends. Resigning as Secretary of the Navy, he flew home for an energetic 25,000-mile tour around the state this spring. Along the way, he picked up valuable business support, a fat campaign chest and the backing of most Texas newspapers. The result was 422,000 primary votes—or almost a third of the total.

But Yarborough’s showing was a surprise. A Louisiana-born Marine veteran of World War II and Korea, Yarborough was little known in Texas politics. He had run only once before, in 1960, when he got whipped for lieutenant governor. Now, as the only liberal and unqualified Kennedy supporter in the field, he got labor backing. He also took home-town Houston handily. And a lot of Texans confused him with U.S. Senator Ralph Yarborough, who is no kin (by the same token, some voters mistakenly supposed that Connally was related to former Senator Tom Connally). Yarborough, as a result, finished second, with 312,000 votes.

Out of the running was Incumbent Governor Price Daniel, 51, who was seeking an unprecedented fourth term. Daniel’s tax programs had lost him much business backing; moreover, Daniel was damaged by unproven campaign accusations, which he repeatedly denied, that he used the influence of his office to accumulate $2,000,000 worth of land. Of the six candidates, Major General Edwin A. Walker, who had conducted an eccentric campaign in which he spent most of his time accusing the U.S. press of engaging in a giant conspiracy against him, ran last, with 134,000 votes.

On the strength of his primary showing and conservative platform, Connally is favored to win the June 2 runoff; one person who will do his best to see that he does is Vice President Lyndon Johnson, whose power at home hangs on a Connally victory. Yarborough tried to stir support by challenging Connally to a television debate. Connally cannily turned down the dare, whereupon Yarborough exploded: “The great Governors of the past, such as Sam Houston, Jim Hogg and Jimmy Allred. would have never placed their tails between their legs and slunk away from the challenge of any man.”

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