Chapter Thirteen: The Emergence of Modern Texas Politics

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Chapter Thirteen:

The Emergence of Modern Texas Politics

Challenges to Texas political traditions
1. Minorities demanded equality

2. Women demanded equality

3. Urbanization brought demands for expanded social services

4. Increasing power of the Republican party

a. Services and taxes

b. Conservative anger at New Deal and Fair Deal

c. Social upheavals of the 1960s
"The present-day Republican Party originated with conservative unhappiness over the policies of the national Democratic party." By 1940, Texas conservatives opposed "the New Deal's friendliness toward organized labor and minorities." The Texas Regulars battled the Democratic Party in 1944 and the Democratic leadership separated itself from the national party. The state party divided between those who supported the national party and those who did not.
Texas Republican platform - "extreme conservative positions"
a. Reduced taxes

b. Opposition to the expansion of civil rights

c. Opposition to welfare program
"The clash of liberal and conservative politics produced by industrialization and urbanization unraveled the rigid control of politics that the Democratic party had exercised in the state since the Popular revolt of the late nineteenth century. Although the conservative wing of the Democratic party still controlled state politics at the end of the 1960s, the Republican party was beginning to challenge its hegemony, and new political constituencies forced the Democratic leadership to moderate its political stances."
Election of 1946
In the gubernatorial election, fear of communist infiltration of labor unions was a key issue. Based on the Smith v. Allwright, Texas blacks organized to become influential voters in the Democratic Party. The pro-Truman and anti-Truman factions competed for control of the Democratic Party. Homer Rainey was the former University of Texas president who ran for governor in 1946 with the support of labor, minorities, and other liberals.
Buford Jester, who had become rich in the oil business, won the election on a platform of no new taxes, no federal interference with state laws (that is, a defense of Jim Crow segregation), and condemnation of Rainey’s plan for a “new, radical and expensive form of government.”
Allan Shivers was elected lieutenant governor and Price Daniel became attorney general.
Jester represented the “'Texas Establishment', conservative businessmen and state leaders of the Democratic Party.”
Rainey’s campaign brought together forces that would form the liberal Democratic coalition.
1. Organized labor

2. Minority voters

3. Defenders of the University of Texas

4. Supporters of the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman presidencies

The 50th legislature ignored the state’s problems of financing:
1. secondary roads and bridges,

2. secondary and university education

3. eleemosynary institutions and prison systems
Instead the legislature:
1. passed nine anti-labor bills, including a right-to-work law;

2. attempted to block Heman Sweatt’s petition to enter the University of Texas law school by establishing Texas Southern University, expanding graduate education at Prairie View A&M, and establishing a law school for blacks in the basement of the capitol;

3. established a committee to propose changes in the public school system;

4. appropriated some money for secondary roads;

5. appropriated money for raises for state employees.
1948 election
Jester and Shivers were re-elected to the governorship and lieutenant-governorship.
Texas Regulars opposed the re-election of President Harry Truman, who unsuccessfully advocated the 1948 Civil Rights. Most of the Texas Regulars and other southern conservatives defected from the Democratic Party and formed the Dixiecrats, which nominated Strom Thurmond for president. Truman won the election in the nation and in Texas.
In the senatorial campaign, Lyndon Johnson distanced himself from the New Deal, organized labor, and Civil Rights. Nevertheless, labor-liberal voters preferred Johnson to former governor Coke Stevenson. Johnson won a controversial run-off election by eighty-seven votes. At the state Democratic convention, Johnson and his campaign manager, John Connally, purged the Regulars from the leadership, replacing them with moderate Jester-Johnson-Truman loyalists.
Johnson, Rayburn, Eisenhower
In the 1950s, Johnson rose to Democratic Senate Majority Leader while Sam Rayburn served as Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1940-47, 1949-53, and 1953-61. In cooperation with Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, Johnson and Rayburn were the most powerful men in the national government during the 1950s.
Buford Jester
Under Jester’s leadership the legislature passed an anti-lynching law, the Gilmer-Aiken Acts, support for an improved highway system, increased aid for the elderly, improvements at the state hospital, and a program for juvenile criminals.

Jester also began reform of the state prison system. Jester’s administration “was the first to address the problems of an urban Texas.”

Allan Shivers
In 1950, Jester died and Allan Shivers assumed the office of governor. As lieutenant-governor, Shivers had greatly increased the power of the office, while weakening the office of governor. He was "the first lieutenant-governor actually to influence the state senate by shaping its agenda and controlling committees through appointments."
Shiver’s 1950 “Goat Speech” to a special legislative session emphasized the need for social welfare reform.
Shiver’s won control of the state Democratic Party executive committee, purged liberals from leadership positions, and then endorsed Dwight Eisenhower, the Republican candidate, for president.
Tidelands Controversy
The Tidelands controversy was a disagreement between Texas and the federal government over oil rights off the Texas coast. Texas claimed that its historic boundaries as a republic gave the state control over three marine leagues (10.5 miles) of the undersea areas attached to its shoreline. In 1937, the national government claimed all of the continental shelf past the three-mile limit. The issue was which government would profit from taxing the Tideland’s oil reserves. Texas oilmen paid a 12.5 per cent tax to the state compared to the national government’s 37.5 per cent tax. Therefore, Texas oilmen and the politicians who represented them wanted the state to control oil rights to the Tidelands. Shivers supported Eisenhower for president in 1952, in part, because of the Democratic candidate’s refusal to support Texas’ claim. Following his election, Eisenhower signed a law giving Texas control of the Tidelands.
In response to conservatives’ anger at the national Democratic party, Shivers devised a strategy of cross-filing whereby a candidate could be listed on both the Democratic and Republican party primary ballots. Texas Democrats divided over the issues of cross-filing, support for the national Democratic party, and Shivers’ endorsement of Eisenhower.
1. Shivercrats supported Shivers’ conservative policies and his endorsement of Eisenhower.

2. The Johnson-Rayburn remained loyal to the national Democratic Party and supported conservative government in Texas.

3. Liberal Democrats such as Ralph Yarborough remained loyal to the national Democratic Party and advocated progressive-populist reforms in Texas.
Shivers’ endorsement of Eisenhower’s successful 1952 presidential campaign did not move white Texans into the Republican party.
1. Eisenhower’s victory was more of a personal than party triumph.

2. Texas Republicans aligned with the far-right wing of the party. They did not endorse Eisenhower’s moderation. Eisenhower worked cooperatively with Johnson and Rayburn to make New Deal measures bi-partisan.

3. Some of Eisenhower’s actions angered most white Texans.
a. Eisenhower’s reluctance to support Joseph McCarthy’s anticommunist campaign.

b. Eisenhower’s decision to send federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 to enforce court-ordered desegregation.

c. Eisenhower’s support for the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Election 1954
Yarborough challenged Shivers in the 1954 gubernatorial campaign, charging that Shivercrats were “secret Republicans.” Shivers charged that “communist labor racketeers” supported Yarborough and advocated the death penalty for communist party membership. When the United Stated Supreme Court ruled segregated schools unconstitutional (Brown decision), Shivers turned to Negrophobia, charging Yarborough with support for integration. Shivers won.
Reaction to Brown Decision

Democratic voters and the state legislature overwhelmingly opposed integration. When a white mob prevented the integration of Mansfield High School, Shivers sent Rangers to prevent black students from entering the school. Shivers appointed an advisory committee which reported twenty-one profoundly racist proposals, including the recommendation of closing down the public school system to avoid integration.


Scandals involving the Board of Insurance Commissioners and the Veteran’s Land Board tarnished the Shivers’ administration.

1956 Campaign

In the gubernatorial campaign, Price Daniel, supported by the Johnson-Rayburn faction, narrowly defeated the liberal Yarborough.

In the 1960s, the realignment of the party loyalties that had begun in the 1930s, accelerated.
From Civil War to 1930s the Democratic Party was a big tent party.

1. The liberal faction founded the Democrats of Texas (DOT) that endorsed national Democratic goals and progressive-populist reform in Texas. Yarborough replaced Daniel in the United States Senate.

2. In 1956, the Johnson/Rayburn/Daniel moderate faction gained control of the State Democratic Executive Committee and refused to seat liberal delegates to the state convention. (389 Establishment ? bottom 401 on LBJ & Libs)

3. The most conservative of Texas Democrats moved to the Republican Party.

Jeffersonian Democrats 342

No-third-Term Democrats 356

Texas Regulars 356, 387
In the 1960s, Some Texans provided leadership for the John Birch Society [continue]. The presidential campaign of Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964 attracted conservative activists to the GOP.
By 1970, the sales tax generated 62 percent of the state’s revenue. Thanks to the sales tax, for the first time the state had some way to predict annual revenue income and maintain a consistent pool of tax monies.
Daniels and Integration

Quote 402

1960 Presidential Election

The Democratic candidate, John F. Kennedy, chose Lyndon Johnson as his vice-presidential running mate. “Johnson’s efforts in the south and in Texas undoubtedly made Kennedy president.”

Rise of the Republican Party

In the special election to replace Johnson in the United States Senate, William Blakely, an extremely conservative Democrat ran against John Tower, a Republican from Wichita Falls.

Quote last 3 lines 403
As a result, Tower became the first Republican United States Senator from Texas since Reconstruction. Tower went on to win three more Senate terms.
Republicans used several issues to build their strength



Local elites



Profession – bankers, teachers, preachers


Religious values



Purity of community

Absolute values

Peace, duties

White Supremacy

Populist threat challenged white supremacy and dominance of local elites. Responded with

1. Negrophobic politics to maintain white supremacy

2. Business progressivism improve state services in order to attract business

“The Establishment” – the well-off, white males who held political power

1. Cooperated with national Democratic Party in reforms of New Deal

2. Cooperated with business elites to use state government to create a positive “business atmosphere”

3. White supremacy

4. Conservative Christianity, deference to clergy to establish moral values
Almost all white Texans were included in a Big Tent Democratic Party
Liberals The Establishment Conservatives

Progressives Business Programs Anti-New Deal

Populist Tradition Anti-Communist

Corporate Conservatives

Conservative Clergy

John Connally, Lyndon Johnson’s close political ally, was elected governor in 1962. The assassin who killed John Kennedy on November 22, 1963, also wounded Connally. The voters’ sympathy for Connally contributed to his easy re-election campaigns in 1964 and 1966. Connally was a Business Progressive who advocated

1. long-range planning

2. improved higher education

3. attraction of out-of-state industry
Connally, with the assistance of Speaker of the House Ben Barnes

Connally and Speaker of the House of Representatives Ben Barnes worked as a team to accomplish business progressive reforms. Liberals condemned Connally program for excluding minorities and poor people. Connally added to his conservative credentials by opposing the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and some of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs. Connally, an acute political observer, recognized that national actions to end Jim Crow segregation and to attack poverty were alienating many Texans from the Democratic party.

Lyndon Johnson won the presidential election of 1964 in a landslide. For the national Republican party and the Texas Republican party, the 1964 election was the low point in their fortunes. Texas Republicans lost both of their congressional seats and all but one of their state legislative positions. Furthermore, George H. W. Bush, whose first elective office was congressman from Houston, lost in his bid to defeat United States Senator Ralph Yarborough.
President Johnson instituted Great Society programs that greatly expanded the national governments social programs. His reforms included Headstart, Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act of 1965, and urban renewal. The Great Society programs angered Texas's conservatives who began to drift toward the Republican party.
1968 election
In the presidential campaign, George C. Wallace, the governor of Alabama and an opponent of the Civil Rights laws of the 1960s, carried five southern states. Texans, however, voted for Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic standard-bearer. "Texas political issues had obviously severed their southern moorings."
Ben Barnes won the lieutenant-governorship. "Many observers considered Barnes the heir apparent to the Connally/Johnson mantle and future national political star."
1970 election
Conservative Democrats ("the Establishment") had a strategy to maintain the party's conservative base in Texas. In the Democratic primary, conservatives would rally middle- and high-income voters to defeat liberal candidates supported by African-Americans, lower income whites, and Mexican Americans. "The 1970 election, for example, witnessed the high point of conservative Democratic success in Texas and the shrewdness of its political strategy." Lloyd Bentsen, a conservative millionaire, defeated Yarborough in the Democratic primary for United States senator and George H. W. Bush, the Republican candidate, in the general election.

Several factors weakened the grip of white male Texans on the political system.
1. The United Supreme court in the cases of Baker v. Carr (1962) and Reynolds v. Sims (1964) required that state legislatures be apportioned on the basis of one-man, one-vote. Rural Texas, where local conservative whites prevailed, could no longer dominate the state legislature. More representatives from ethnic enclaves in the central cities and from middle- and upper-class white suburbs would now be able to serve in the legislature. In the 1972 election, Republicans won seventeen seats in the state house, three in the state senate, and four in Congress.
2. The twenty-fourth amendment to the United States Constitution barred the poll tax. The court also struck down the effort of conservatives to reduce the number of voters by shortening the registration period.
3. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed state and local voting restrictions and provided for federal monitoring of election practices.

Civil Rights
"White elites did not voluntarily surrender power, nor did the federal government voluntarily decide to advocate minority rights." Instead black and white liberals demanded an end to Jim Crow segregation. The NAACP challenged racist laws in the courts, while demonstrators directly confronted segregation through nonviolent civil disobedience. Fear of bad publicity or loss of business persuaded most hotels, theaters, and restaurants to desegregate by the early 1960s. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forced the Texas legislature to end de jure segregation.
Barbara Jordan became the first African American woman to serve in the state senate, the first woman to give a keynote address at a national political convention, and the first African American congresswoman from Texas and the South.

After 1965, the biracial, nonviolent nature of the civil rights movement changed and young African American adopted the slogan "black power" and demanded an end to de facto segregation. In Texas, some black militants had violent confrontations with the police. By the 1970s, most white Texans believed that the national government had gone far enough in addressing the inequalities that blacks confronted. A "white backlash" caused many whites to resist further change and influenced many to move to the Republican party, which they viewed as less supportive of reform

Texas Mexicans
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the G. I. Forum, like the NAACP, shied away from active involvement in politics. In the presidential campaign of 1960, many Tejanos generated a grass-roots movement for John Kennedy. Following his election, Kennedy defaulted on his promise to appoint Hispanics to federal posts. As a result, Texas Mexicans formed a new political organization to unite Hispanics: the Political Association of Spanish-speaking Organizations (PASO).
In 1963, PASO managed to elect an all Mexican American slate to the city council of Crystal City. Traditional elites regained power two years later, but the Crystal City revolution signaled the unwillingness of Mexican Americans to be ruled by an Anglo minority.
In the 1960s, the Chicano movement used civil disobedience and boycotts to direct the nation's attention to the problems farm workers. Divisions between Mexican Americans on how best to address the problems confronted by Tejanos weakened the movement.

Texas Women

In the 1960s and 1970s, urbanization and the women's rights movement challenged the second-class citizenship of women. National influences compelled change.
1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensured married women control of their property and provided a legal basis to challenge discrimination in the workplace.
2. Under Title IX of the Educational Act of 1972, colleges were required to institute affirmative-action programs.
3. In 1972, Sarah Weddington, an attorney from Texas, won the Roe v. Wade case by which the United States Supreme Court struck down state laws forbidding abortions during the first three months of pregnancy.
4. The National Organization for Women (NOW) formed chapters in Texas to demand an end to discrimination in the workplace.
Many Texas women worked unsuccessfully for Frances (Sissy) Farenthold's 1972 campaign for governor and for the approval of Equal Rights Amendment to the United States constitution.
Although after 1972 the women's movement waned in Texas, it did have some successes.
1. Women entered the workplace on a more equal basis.
2. A "quiet revolution" established rape crisis centers and battered women shelters in towns across the state.
3. More women entered politics. In 1982, Ann Richards was elected state treasurer. She was the first woman to hold statewide office in more than fifty years.

In the early 1970s, the Sharpstown scandal led to a massive turnover in the state legislature, conviction of several state officials, and calls for reform.
During Preston Smith's governorship (1969-73), Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Gus Mutscher blocked Smith's moderate conservative reform programs. In 1971, the federal government's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) began a probe of Texas officials who profited from illegal stock-market transactions. The SEC focused on the stock manipulations involving a life insurance company and the Sharpstown State Bank. The investigation eventually led to the conviction of Mutshcer and others for bribery. Lieutenant governor Ben Barnes had not been implicated in the scandal, but he had borrowed money from the Sharpstown bank. The suggestion of impropriety ended his political career. The Sharpstown scandal brought an end to the era of the Johnson/Connally "establishment" dominating Texas politics.

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