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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 >>

Difficulty in shifting power base in Texas politics

Farenthold again addresses what she sees as the lack of real change in shifting political power during the post-World War II years. It was because of this lack of change that she focused so much on reform during her two terms in the state legislature and during her 1972 gubernatorial bid. Here, she talks about difficulty in effecting change in political power bases in relationship to different constituencies, notably labor.

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

WALTER DE VRIES:
But your experiences suggest that things really haven't changed very much in Texas politics in the last twenty years?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
I don't think that they have, except for this overt racism.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Why not? Is the grip that strong?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
I think so? That's why . . .
WALTER DE VRIES:
Why can't you shake it?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
(laughter) That's why I had felt so deeply about that reform, because I knew how hard it was to get anything like that started in Texas. And that's why I thought that it was so important.
JACK BASS:
Why didn't any of the so called "progressives" in statewide office now run against Briscoe this year? Was it just fear of the two term tradition?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
See, I couldn't . . . maybe I was the one in error, I couldn't buy the two term tradition. It's one of the things that was controlling in my own situation this time, the fact that we were going into four year terms of office. This is the first year that we have had four year terms of office. And I have an idea, again I'm not in the center of all this, I have to observe or go through my own experience . . . I think that I have seen enough to say that I believe that the lack of opposition this year, and I know two of them that were both headed that way if they can get there, Hill and Hobby . . . it's a part of the Bentsen strategy. I don't want to overstate what I know, but I am inclined to think that. And part of it was to have no dissension, have a quite convention. I remember somewhere . . . and I used to say during this primary of mine this year, "let's not let state government go down the drain over presidential politics." Well, the four year term was passed in '70, it was not even discussed. Everyone just sort of stayed in place. And I remember during the campaign just seeing the thing that . . . well, several things lead me to saying what I just said. One is the night before I filed this time, when a labor lawyer told me . . . and I lost my labor support this time, just like that. He said, "Your problem with labor is not Briscoe, but Bentsen." Then I remember during the primary reading where Bentsen said that his office was working with Briscoe, his office was working with his 254 county contacts and they in turn were working with Briscoe on the convention. So, that's the way I feel in part. I remember going to the state convention in September and the Steelworkers supported me last time and they did not this time, and one of them said to me, "We can't support Leonel this time, just as we could not support you in May and the reason is that we want unity for '76." Now, you analyze that, I'm not able to.
WALTER DE VRIES:
It looks like you already have. What about the assertion that if you put together the black vote, the Chicano vote and the liberal vote, you've got a majority in Texas?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
It hasn't happened yet.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Is it there?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
Theoretically.