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Texas House Speakers Oral History Project -
Marion Price Daniel, Jr.
MARION PRICE DANIEL, JR.
Price Daniel, Jr. Photo by Bill Malone. TSLAC Current Events, Texas State Library and Archives Commission; #1973/99-12.
The 63rd Legislature's regular session, January 9 to May 28, 1973; the 63rd Legislature's 1st called session December 18 to December 20, 1973.
Daniel also served as president of the 1974 Texas Constitutional Convention from January 8, 1974 to July 30, 1974.
Born in 1941, Marion Price Daniel, Jr., was the son of Marion Price Daniel, Sr. The elder Daniel had served as Texas House Speaker from 1943 to 1945, won election to the office of state attorney general in 1946, became a United States Senator in 1952, and then won the gubernatorial campaign in 1956. A political career thus was probably inevitable for the younger Daniel who, born in 1941, grew up in Liberty, and operated a Waco bookshop that specialized in Texana while he studied law at Baylor University.
Daniel won his first term in the Texas House in 1968. Generally friendly to labor and to House reform efforts, he never formally aligned himself with the House "Dirty Thirty" faction seeking to remove Gus Mutscher from the speakership. Armed with his famous name, however, he soon emerged as the Dirty Thirty's favorite alternative to the status quo dominance of conservative Democrats.
Amid the tumult generated by the Sharpstown scandal, Daniel won the speakership in 1973. Under Daniel's speakership, the state Legislature passed new ethics and financial disclosure requirements for public officials, more stringently regulated lobbyists, and strengthened open meetings and open records laws.
In 1973, Texas Parade magazine named Daniel the "man to watch" in Texas politics and Time magazine placed him on a list as one of the nation's top 100 leaders. Some spoke of a Daniel run for the Senate or even president. Daniel made a tactical mistake, however, pledging from the beginning to serve only one term as speaker. His one-term promise meant that his hold over the Texas House was automatically weakened as members scrambled to be elected as the next speaker.
Daniel was elected president of the state Constitutional Convention of 1974, with the House and Senate meeting in joint session from January to July to draft a new state Constitution to replace the 1876 document still in effect. The convention failed by three votes to approve the new Constitution and send it to Texas voters for final approval. Under his successor as speaker, Bill Clayton, the Constitution was finally submitted to the voters, but it was rejected.
Politically wounded by this failure, Daniel lost in the 1978 Democratic primary for attorney general by Mark White, who later became governor. Returning to Liberty, Daniel resumed practicing law and occasionally taught law and government classes at the University of Houston, the South Texas School of Law, and Texas Southern University. At age 39, Daniel was shot to death at his home in Liberty on January 19, 1981.