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Let the People In : The Life and Times of Ann Richards
Winner, Coral Horton Tullis Memorial Prize, Texas State Historical Association, 2012Liz Carpenter Award for Research in the History of Women, Texas State Historical Association, 2012 When Ann Richards delivered the keynote of the 1988 Democratic National Convention and mocked President George H. W. Bush--"Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth"--she instantly became a media celebrity and triggered a rivalry that would alter the course of American history. In 1990, Richards won the governorship of Texas, upsetting the GOP's colorful rancher and oilman Clayton Williams. The first ardent feminist elected to high office in America, she opened up public service to women, blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans, gays, and the disabled. Her progressive achievements and the force of her personality created a lasting legacy that far transcends her rise and fall as governor of Texas. In Let the People In, Jan Reid draws on his long friendship with Richards, interviews with her family and many of her closest associates, her unpublished correspondence with longtime companion Bud Shrake, and extensive research to tell a very personal, human story of Ann Richards's remarkable rise to power as a liberal Democrat in a conservative Republican state. Reid traces the whole arc of Richards's life, beginning with her youth in Waco, her marriage to attorney David Richards, her frustration and boredom with being a young housewife and mother in Dallas, and her shocking encounters with Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter. He follows Richards to Austin and the wild 1970s scene and describes her painful but successful struggle against alcoholism. He tells the full, inside story of Richards's rise from county office and the state treasurer's office to the governorship, where she championed gun control, prison reform, environmental protection, and school finance reform, and he explains why she lost her reelection bid to George W. Bush, which evened his family's score and launched him toward the presidency. Reid describes Richards's final years as a world traveler, lobbyist, public speaker, and mentor and inspiration to office holders, including Hillary Clinton. His nuanced portrait reveals a complex woman who battled her own frailties and a good-old-boy establishment to claim a place on the national political stage and prove "what can happen in government if we simply open the doors and let the people in."
The Power of the Texas Governor
George W. Bush called it "the best job in the world," yet many would argue that the Texas governorship is a weak office. Given few enumerated powers by the Texas Constitution, the governor must build a successful relationship with the state legislature—sometimes led by a powerful lieutenant governor or speaker of the opposing party—to advance his or her policy agenda. Yet despite the limitations on the office and the power of the legislative branch, many governors have had a significant impact on major aspects of Texas's public life—government, economic development, education, and insurance reform among them. How do Texas governors gain the power to govern effectively? The Power of the Texas Governortakes a fresh look at the state's chief executives, from John Connally to George W. Bush, to discover how various governors have overcome the institutional limitations of the office. Delving into the governors' election campaigns and successes and failures in office, Brian McCall makes a convincing case that the strength of a governor's personality—in particular, his or her highly developed social skills—can translate into real political power. He shows, for example, how governors such as Ann Richards and George W. Bush forged personal relationships with individual legislators to achieve their policy goals. Filled with revealing insights and anecdotes from key players in each administration,The Power of the Texas Governor offers new perspectives on leadership and valuable lessons on the use of power.
Twilight of the Texas Democrats : The 1978 Governor's Race
In 1978, Republican William P. Clements won the race for governor of the Lone Star State, marking the start of an interlude of two-party competition in the state. Eventually, Republican ascendancy would once again make Texas a "safe" place for a single party--but not the party that had dominated the state since the end of Reconstruction. At the time, observers asked whether the election of a Republican governor was a mere flash in the pan. For the previous twenty years, other races, at every level from national to local, had made inroads into Democratic strongholds, but that party's dominance by and large had held. In 1978, the situation changed. Now, historian Kenneth Bridges--drawing on polling data, newspaper reports, archival sources, and extensive interviews--both confirms the significance of the election and explains the many and complex forces at work in it. He analyzes a wide range of factors that includes the disaffection among Mexican American voters fanned by La Raza Unida, miscalculations by Democrat John Hill and his campaign staff, the superior polling techniques used by Clements, the unpopularity of the Democratic president, Jimmy Carter, the changing demographics of the state, and the unprecedented spending by the Clements team. In the process, Bridges describes not an ideological realignment among Texas voters, but a partisan one. Twilight of the Texas Democrats illuminates our understanding of both political science and regional history.