Prof’s Book Details an Unlikely Political Alliance

‘Austin/Boston Connection’ Chronicles How 2 States Held Sway Over U.S. House

Oct. 22, 2009

Whatever else Texas and Massachusetts might share, an approach to national politics wouldn’t seem to be one of them.

That has not always been the case, however. As a new book by a UT Dallas political science professor details, Democrats from Texas and Massachusetts ruled one branch of Congress for half of the last century.

Book jacketIn his new book, The Austin/Boston Connection: Five Decades of House Democratic Leadership, 1937-1989, Dr. Anthony Champagne, a political science professor in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, discusses this exceptional period and its long-term impact.

“This is a study of the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives in much of the 20th century, where there was an effort to balance regional interests by having either the speaker or majority leader from Texas or Southern Oklahoma and the other from Boston,” Champagne said. “It is the story of regional politics in the House, as well as mentor-protégé relationships.”

Champagne said that the beginning of the book clarifies his motivation behind the undertaking: “In 1940, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives was a Democrat from a district on the Texas-Oklahoma border. The majority leader was a Catholic Democrat from a Greater Boston district. Thirty-six years later the speaker was a Democrat from a district on the Texas-Oklahoma border, and the majority leader was a Catholic Democrat from a Greater Boston district.”

He questioned how this could be possible. Champagne asked himself: “Of all the possible combinations of leaders of the House, why did there seem to be this ‘Austin’ – i.e. Texas-Oklahoma – and Boston connection?”

The Austin/Boston Connection, which uses numerous archival materials for its insights, was published in July.

Champagne participated in a radio interview on the KERA-FM (90.1) show Think in August.

Champagne received his PhD from the University of Illinois. His research interests are in judicial politics and congressional history. He is also the author of Congressman Sam Rayburn; Sam Rayburn: A Bio-bibliography; and Judicial Politics in Texas: Partisanship, Money, And Politics in State Courts.


Media Contacts: Teala Miller, UT Dallas Office of Media Relations, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Tony Champagne

Dr. Anthony Champagne, a political science professor, began the book after asking why leaders from Texas and Massachusetts happened to lead the U.S. House for so much of the 20th century.

Jim Wright and Tip O'neil

This emblematic portrait, used for the book's jacket, shows Jim Wright (left) of Texas and "Tip" O’Neill of Massachusetts in a cordial pose. Both Democrats served terms as speaker of the U.S. House.

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