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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Frances Farenthold, December 14, 1974. Interview A-0186. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Texan woman's decision to run for governor in 1972

Farenthold explains her decision to run for governor in 1972. Disatisfied with the lack of representation of women and minorities in the Democratic Party, Farenthold describes how she worked to find a suitable candidate to rival Democratic contendor Dolph Briscoe in the gubernatorial race. Ultimately, Farenthold decided to run herself, although she was not elected.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Frances Farenthold, December 14, 1974. Interview A-0186. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
Why did you run for governor in '72?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
Are we going to go through that again? I didn't plan on it. Well, again, this isn't hindsight, this is the way it seemed then. I thought that then the reform movement was a very important thing in the state, that we could really get something started insofar as opening government. And I had great belief in that. And I looked at who was running and I read up on Briscoe and I saw that he was part of the same thing. Now, the way that the whole thing started out was through members of the "Dirty 30". We met through 1971, after the session was over, we went around and talked on campuses and stuff like that. And our first idea was that it wouldn't be a slate, but to try to field people for statewide office and to try to have ethnic representation, gender representation, although that wasn't the most important thing. There was more concern about having a Mexican-American, having a black. Then, when it got right down to it, no one would run because they had the sense to see the enormous energy in running that it would take.
WALTER DE VRIES:
The "Dirty 30" now caucused in '71 and '72 and . . .
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
Yes.
WALTER DE VRIES:
They were looking for candidates among that group?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
Yeah, or others, if we could find them.
WALTER DE VRIES:
And you couldn't find any?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
And I remember here, Tom Bass, who is now the county commissioner, said that he would like to run for treasurer, if he had the money. I remember standing out in front of the university where he teaches here, maybe in December of '71, and he said that he just didn't have the money for it. And the same thing with Sam Holmes, the black legislator who was later my campaign manager in Dallas County . . . for the railroad commission. I talked to Joe Bethal about Lieutentant Governor, all in a very loose way. But then it got down to it, and there wasn't anyone. But really, the impetus had been the reform and all that that had gone through '71. So, it got down to me and it got down, as far as I was concerned, basically between two races. One was Governor and one was Lieutenant Governor. And I guess that starting at Christmas of '71, I tortured over that decision. When I heard that John Hill was going to probably run for attorney general, I recall saying to one of his supporters that I would get out of that because he was a better lawyer than I am. And there were a dozen things that you waived back and forth. And I looked at all those races. I remember people phoning me about this one and that one, the railroad commission, treasurer and attorney general. And it seemed to me that where the greatest change could be made was in the Governor's office. And I still contend that. I don't pay any attention to all this talk about what a weak governor we have under our constitution. The governor can do a lot. We just have a kind of climate here where he doesn't. And as I said, had I thought that Briscoe was a different cut in his backing and support and philosophy, I wouldn't have run.