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Texas House Speakers Oral History Project -
Rayford Price. Prints & Photographs, Texas State Library and Archives Commission; #1973/15-1.
The 62nd Legislature's 2nd called session, March 28 to March 30, 1972; the 62nd Legislature's 3rd called session, June 14 to July 7, 1972; the 62nd Legislature's 4th called sessions September 18 October 17, 1972.
Born in Jacksonville in Cherokee County in East Texas on February 9, 1937, Price grew up in the nearby town of Frankston in Anderson County. His father, Quanah Quantrill Price, was owner and publisher of the Frankston Citizen. Rayford Price graduated from Frankston High School as valedictorian in 1955 and attended Lon Morris College where he was active in student politics. Price transferred to the University of Texas at Austin and worked as a printer to pay for tuition at the university. He received his law degree in 1963.
Price won his first election to the Texas House of Representatives before finishing law school, and represented Palestine as a Democrat from 1961 to 1973. He held a leadership position every term he served in the House, including a stint as chair of the Committee on Contingent Expenses his freshman term. He was later named chair of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and then became head of the Committee on State Affairs in his next-to-last term in the House. Price originally intended to run for speaker in 1973 but Gus Mutscher was forced to resign that post in 1972 as a result of his indictment for conspiracy to commit bribery in the Sharpstown Scandal. Price won election as Mutscher's successor for the remainder of the legislative year. Hoping to prevent in the future the excesses he believed had occurred under Mutscher's leadership, Price focused his short tenure as speaker on reforming House rules to reduce the power of conference committees and to introduce a limited seniority system. A political conservative, Price faced opposition from the so-called "Dirty Thirty" coalition of liberal Democrats and Republicans who had been locked out of decision-making by the traditional House Democratic leadership. A member of the "Dirty Thirty," Fred Head, moved into Price's district in order to challenge the speaker's House re-election bid. Running in a year in which the Sharpstown scandal had created a strong anti-incumbent mood, Price lost in a razor-tight upset. Price presided as speaker over two more special sessions before ending his political career in January 1973.
He moved to Dallas to form a law firm with Ray Hutchison, then a state legislator and husband of current United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Price currently practices law in Austin.
– Interviewed by Michael Phillips