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Posted on Sep 14, 2006
Ann Richards

Ann Richards, the sharp-tongued trailblazer from Texas, died on Wednesday at the age of 73.  Though she served only one term as governor, Richards left her mark on Texas and the nation.  Known for a keen wit, Richards also accomplished an unprecedented promotion of minorities and women to positions of influence.

AP (via Yahoo!):

Richards rose to the governorship with a come-from-behind victory over millionaire cowboy Clayton Williams in 1990. She cracked a half-century male grip on the governor’s mansion and celebrated by holding up a T-shirt that showed the state Capitol and read: “A woman’s place is in the dome.”

In four years as governor, Richards championed what she called the “New Texas,” appointing more women and more minorities to state posts than any of her predecessors.

She appointed the first black University of Texas regent; the first crime victim to join the state Criminal Justice Board; the first disabled person to serve on the human services board; and the first teacher to lead the State Board of Education. Under Richards, the fabled Texas Rangers pinned stars on their first black and female officers.


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By s.s., September 14, 2006 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment
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Like the Dixie Chicks, I often get red in the face when Los Angeles friends remind me that George W. Bush is a fellow Texan. “What is wrong with your state?” they ask. I counter that 43 was technically born in Connecticut, but the jabs keep coming: “Tom DeLay?” they taunt. Yes, Laredo. “Jessica Simpson?” Okay, Dallas.

I can usually strike back with a quick Jim Hightower (Denison), Lyndon Johnson (Johnson City) or Willie Nelson (Abbott). But my trump card has always been Ann Richards (Lakeview). “Ann Richards,” they repeat with a smile and a nod. Instantly, their criticism melts away and they jump on to other soapboxes.

This is why I always loved Ann Richards. For on top of her manifold accomplishments – raising four kids, kicking alcoholism and becoming the first woman elected to statewide office in Texas in fifty years – Ann Richards was cool. You thought of her bringing the house down at the Democratic Convention, rattling off homespun homilies on CNN (“Larry, you can put lipstick on a pig and call it Lurlene, but at the end of the day, it’s still a pig”), or straddling a Harley at age 60, and you had to smile. You wanted to know her. You wanted some of her sass to rub off on you. You even wanted to be a Texan.

This morning when I read that Governor Richards had died, I was overcome with sadness. I felt as though we’d lost not only a great political voice, but a connection to a brief period of time when Texas seemed on the verge of something radically new. As we know, it ended too soon, and her loss to gubernatorial challenger George W. Bush ushered in a very different era for Texas and our nation.

Richards’ passing also spurred my dormant Texas pride and made me think of other Cool Texas Women who came and went before her: Barbara Jordan (Houston), Katherine Anne Porter (Indian Creek), Babe Didrickson (Beaumont), Sippie Wallace (Houston), Janice Joplin (Port Arthur) and so many others.

Governor Richards, you now join this proud pantheon of Texas women. Seventy-three years was too short a time for you to be here, but we are so grateful that you graced our world with your dazzling personality and enormous heart. You had style. You had class. You had chutzpah. You had us at “Poor George…”

You will always make me proud to be a Texan.

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By Ritzl, September 14, 2006 at 11:45 am Link to this comment
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God Bless Her!  One of the last self-directed and outspoken Democrats.

We will truly miss her.

Hopefully she will be a profile in courage for other Dems.


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By Rowdy!, September 14, 2006 at 11:00 am Link to this comment
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Oh, why do we lose the good ones and are left with the GWB’s of the world?

Ann, You go girl!
May she rest in peace.

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