Election 1944: Speaker Sam Rayburn faces tough fight in primary (7-22-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (July 23, 1944)


Speaker Sam Rayburn faces tough fight in primary

Light voting reported in Texas election as Negroes are give vote for first time

Dallas, Texas (UP) – (July 22)
House Speaker Sam Rayburn, making his bid for his 17th term in Congress, faced one of the toughest battles in his long political career today as Texas voters balloted in a primary election.

Mr. Rayburn, “the Pride of Bonham,” was opposed principally by State Senator G. C. Morris of Greenville, a youthful, active campaigner.

Despite the fact that Mr. Rayburn and several other ling-termers in Congress staked their political future on today’s balloting, and it was the first primary in which Negroes were permitted to vote, only mild interest has been shown in the election.

Vote is very light

Voting proceeded slowly. Reports to the United Press from all sections of the state mostly were that “voting is light.”

In the Lubock area, fairly heavy balloting was reported. Rains had puddled fields and freed farmers from their chores so they could cast ballots.

In Bonham, Mr. Rayburn cast his vote early and then went to his ranch to spend the day.

The Negro vote was reported extremely light. There were no reports of trouble at any polling place.

Few Negro voters

Approximately 900,000 of the state’s 1,570,000 eligible voters were expected to ballot. Very few of those were expected to be Negroes, despite the recent Supreme Court ruling which extended them the right to vote in primaries. Few Negroes had paid the necessary poll tax and a large portion had already cast absentee ballots in an effort to avoid friction at the polls.

There was no senatorial contest in Texas this year and no torrid state issues to enliven the interest of voters. All Texas Congressmen are up for renomination except Rep. Martin Dies of Orange, who announced some time ago he would not run again.

In addition to Mr. Rayburn, Congressmen facing the stiffest opposition and possible runoffs in the second primary next month included Rep. Wright Patman of Texarkana in the 1st district, Rep. Hatton Summers of Dallas in the 5th, Nat Patton of Crockett in the 7th, Rep. J. J. Mansfield of Columbus in the 9th, Rep. Ed Gossett of Wichita Falls in the 13th, and Rep. Sam Russell of Stephenville in the 17th.