Texas has a long history of producing powerful politicians who have fixed their eye on the White House. A Johnson did it successfully, as did two Bushes. A Nance Garner came close. More often than not, however, the campaign trail is filled with those who tried and failed: Lloyd Bentsen, Ross Perot, Phil Gramm, Rick Perry (so far, anyway), and, yes, John Connally.
The run-up to the 1980 presidential election was the occasion for Paul Burka's 10,000-word cover story from November 1979 on the former governor who had switched parties, joined the Nixon administration, and survived the Milk Fund scandal. (Connally has the distinction of being the first politician to appear on the cover of Texas Monthly, in September 1973, and the first person to be on the cover twice.) Burka starts off with this terrific opening scene, which at once puts Connally on full display:
Imagine that you are John Connally, campaigning for president in a run-down Italian neighborhood in Providence, Rhode Island. You are walking from grocery store to cafe to pizzeria with the ambitious young mayor, a caricature of his type, when suddenly he flips a coin to a proprietor, grabs a peach, and stuffs it gluttonously into his mouth, spurting juice everywhere. Everyone is looking at you; you have to buy something. How can you remain fastidious, correct John Connally?Read More