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How Ann Richards Trumped Her Rival Clayton Williams

Kenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
This year's election echoes the 1990 Texas gubernatorial election: She was a seasoned politician and her opponent was a businessman who made rape jokes. Sound familiar?

From Texas Standard:

He was a businessman who liked to brag about his financial success, cracked rape jokes around reporters and kissed "just about every woman within arms' reach."

She was a Democrat who shattered many ceilings, with real-world political experience and demanded that her opponent disclose his taxes.

These two also wouldn't shake hands.


This season’s presidential race is giving a lot of Texans flashbacks of the 1990 gubernatorial race between politician Ann Richards and wealthy businessman Clayton Williams, known as Claytie. In fact, one longtime Texas politico has said that Donald Trump is "Claytie on steroids."

If this year's contest turns out anything like Claytie vs. the Lady, there’s one key demographic that can swing the vote. 

Margaret Justus, press secretary for former Gov. Ann Richards, says they focused on bringing out women to vote in her showdown with Williams for the governor's seat in 1990.

“We had women in droves from Dallas County and Harris County come over for Ann,” Justus says.

Justus says Hillary Clinton knew, much like Richards did, that she was a "savvy, experienced politician running against a political neophyte."

"Trump, though, did have experience being in public light," she says, "but he did not have experience being a politician under a stark spotlight. And there's a difference."

Another similarity between Williams and Trump is their reluctance to release their income tax statements. Justus says the similarities between the two races – 26 years apart – are noticeable, but this year, fewer moderates means fewer opportunities for bipartisanship and election fatigue has set in.

“We had a lot more moderate Republicans who were able to get along with moderate Democrats," she says. "I hope that with this election we just get it over with, for god’s sake. It just seems like it’s just not going to end. We’ll see something come from the new Republican Party and I hope it’s an opportunity for more reaching across the aisle.”

Post by George Economos.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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