The hives of the Texas "killer bees" remained undisturbed today but there is still venom aplenty in what may be a futile battle to legislate a state presidential primary in the Lone Star state.
After four days of deadlock, the "worker bees" are invoking the heroes of the Alamo, the "queen bees" are under 24-hour surgveillance and the "bundle bees" are simply trying to defend themselves.
As is common in Texas legislative struggles, one con't tell the players without a program. "killer bees" are 12 liberal senators who took flight Friday mornign, blocking a Senate quorum of two-thirds of its membership and preventing consideration of a primary election bill beneficial to conservative Democrats and Republican presidential hopeful John Connally.
The "queen bees" are the wives of the missing senators, whose homes have been staked out by the Department of Public Safety since Lt. Gov. William P. Hobby ordered law officers to arrest the missing members and return them to the state Senate.
"i finally explained that daddy is playing hide and seek with the lieutenant governor," said Virginia Clower, after trying to tell her 5-year-old daughter why Dallas Sen. Ron Clower hadn't been home in four days.
The "bumble bees" are the gighway patrolmen and Texas Rangers, who have been trying to reconcile the lieutenant governor's orders with the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. So far their statewide dragnet has turned up only the brother of one of the missing senators - the real senator, Gene Jones, vaulted an 8-foot fence behind his Houston home and escaped while a Texas Ranger was arresting his brother Sunday morning.
The "worker bees" are conservative Democratic and Republican stay-behind senators, many of whom have a not-coincidental interest in achieving a primary scheme that will allow conservative Democrats to vote in the Republican presidential contest as well as in their own state Democratic primaries.
"if the idea of the absent senators is to carve a niche in history, I would remind them that those remembered in Texas history books are those who stood and fought, not those who cut and run," intoned Sen. Peyton McKnight, a Tyler oilman, today.
The legislature must adjourn at midnight next Monday, and the truants have pledged to stay in hiding until Wednesday, after which Senate rules will no longer permit consideration of the primary bill.
Absent from the great battle of the bees is Gov. William P. Clements Jr., the first Republican governor in Texas since Reconstruction and a man with nothing at all to gain from a skirmish over presidential primary dates.
Clements has been absentsince Saturday on a previously planned trip to attend a reception at the Hartford, Conn., Marine Club and has not been available for comment.
The dual election plan hated by the "killer bees" would establish a presidential primary in March and a state and local primary election in July, allowing conservative Democrats to choose a Republican presidential candidate and scurry back to the Democratic fold in time to keep conservative Democratic incumbents in office.
Thus they could cast their primary votes for former Texas governor John Connally without sacrificing a say in state and local elections.
Clements was aided in his campaign by Connally, but he also had assistance from former Central Intelligence Agency director George Bush of Houston and former California governor Ronald Reagan, presidential hopefuls who have more to gain from a pure Republican contest.
The Republican state executive committee commended the "killer bees" Saturday and reiterated the party's stand in favor of a presidential primary on the same day as state and local primary elections.