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Senator Ralph Yarborough’s Grave In Austin—What A Great Liberal He Was

In Austin earlier this week I saw the grave of that great Texan—Senator Ralph Yarborough at the State of Texas Cemetery. 

Senator Yarborough was the leader of the liberal wing of the Texas Democratic Party for many years.

As an assistant attorney general in Texas in the 1930’s, Yarborough won judgments against oil companies establishing the right of public schools to share in profits from oil through a state fund.

Yarborough ran for Governor in the Democratic primary three times in the 1950’s. He lost each time against a more conservative Democrat in what was than a one-party state.

However, Yarborough won a special election for the U.S. Senate in 1957 and held on to the seat in 1958 and 1964. In ’64 he beat future President George H.W. Bush.

In the Senate, Yarborough represented the best impulses of the people of Texas. He supported LBJ’s Great Society, helped write the Endangered Species Act and sponsored the establishment of a number of wildlife sanctuaries in Texas.

Yarborough was defeated in the 1970 Democratic primary by Lloyd Bentsen.

That Texas had such a strong liberal leader nearly half a century ago shows how little we have advanced in that time. Not since Yarborough left Washington have Texans had a genuine representative of the people’s interests in the Senate, or in the Governor’s mansion, except, at times, Ann Richards.  

June 20, 2007 Posted by | Politics, Texas | Leave a comment