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CAR-STABLE CONVENTION

CAR-STABLE CONVENTION. The Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominating convention met in a streetcar stable in Houston on August 16 and 17, 1892. Earlier in the year the state party had apportioned 958 convention votes among the various counties. On Saturdays between May 21 and August 1, county Democratic party committees conducted conventions or held primary elections to choose candidates. The two gubernatorial candidates, James S. Hogg and George W. Clark,qqv met in debates and gave speeches, first in one section of the state and then in another, as the primary and convention battle switched from one county to another. During his first term in office, Governor Hogg had made friends as well as enemies in his push for the establishment of the Railroad Commission, members of which were appointed by the governor. Clark, a prominent railroad lobbyist, believed that the commission had stifled the Texas economy. Clark wanted Railroad Commission members elected and more open to public influence, but so did populists among farming interests who otherwise were hostile to the railroads.

As convention time approached, votes pledged to Hogg appeared to total more than the two-thirds majority necessary to renominate him. He needed 632 convention votes to be renominated, and estimates appearing in newspapers in Dallas, Austin, and Beeville gave him from 626 to 674. With victory out of the question, the Clark supporters worked to block Hogg's renomination, or, as Hogg supporters put it, "to rule or ruin." If Hogg had failed to get 632 votes, the convention would have been forced to nominate a compromise candidate; former governor James W. Throckmorton, an avid railroad supporter, was mentioned as a possibility. Clark delegates hoped to gain control of the convention by electing, on a voice vote, a Clark supporter as temporary chairman. By controlling the convention, the Clark supporters could take votes away from Hogg in contested counties such as Bexar and Dallas.

Clark supporters planned to increase the volume of their voices by splitting each of their votes among several persons. The Harris County delegation, for example, planned to use fifty delegates to cast thirteen convention votes. The state executive committee learned of this plan and ruled that a vote could be split between no more than two delegates. The Hogg-controlled committee also decided who would get delegate badges and who would not, and a fence was erected around the car stable to block out all persons without proper badges. Clark delegates said they would not wear the "badge of servitude" but planned to enter the car stable anyway. Newton W. Finley, the state party chairman and a Hogg supporter, opened the convention with a move to elect a temporary chairman on a roll-call vote. This procedure would ensure the election of T. S. Shepard, Hogg's choice for the position. At the same time, the Clark delegates shouted for the election of their nominee, Jonathan Lane. Each side declared itself to be the winner of this contest, and Shepard and Lane attempted to preside over the convention simultaneously.

Finally, the Clark delegates bolted down the street to Turner Hall. There they nominated Clark for governor and proclaimed themselves to be the representatives of the true Democratic party. Clark claimed that he had lost out in the main convention because members of a third party, the People's party, had been allowed to participate in the Democratic conventions and primary elections. He made this accusation despite his earlier support of a decision to allow such participation.

The delegates remaining at the Car-Stable Convention nominated Hogg by a vote of 697 to Clark's 108½ votes; 15½ votes were cast for other candidates. In a compromise with farming interests, Hogg supporters accepted a platform plank calling for staggered, six-year, elected terms for commission members rather than executive appointment. In the general election there were three candidates for governor: two Democrats, Hogg and Clark, and one People's party candidate, Thomas L. Nugent. Hogg won reelection by a plurality vote over Clark and the Populist candidate. The vote totals were 190,486 for Hogg, 133,395 for Clark, and 108,483 for Nugent. Hogg received 59 percent of the Democratic votes cast for governor.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Alwyn Barr, Reconstruction to Reform: Texas Politics, 1876–1906 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971). Robert C. Cotner, James Stephen Hogg: A Biography (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1959).

John Martin Brockman

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

John Martin Brockman, "CAR-STABLE CONVENTION," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/wbc01), accessed September 02, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.