Friday, September 15, 2006

Ann Richards (1933-2006)

Years ago, the State of Texas promoted tourism in the state with a slogan that proclaimed, "Texas: It's like a whole other country." On that basis, perhaps I can justify writing a few words here on this IR blog about the passing of Governor Ann Richards.

In 1990, Richards became only the second woman to hold the highest office in the Lone Star State. (She was preceded by Miriam A. "Ma" Ferguson, who was elected governor after husband, James A. Ferguson was impeached. She campaigned on the slogan, "Two governors for the price of one." Critics said, "Bedfellows make for strange politics.") She was a rare breed--a progressive Texas Democrat able to win a statewide election. It is, today, an extinct breed.

If for no other reason (and I would argue that there were many other reasons), Richards was good for Texas--and for humankind--because she brought more women and minorities into positions of power in Texas than anyone before or since. She recognized what it meant to be part of an under-represented group and she struggled heroically to change that.

I'm very proud of the fact that in 1990 I often wore a T-shirt that said, "Another man for Ann."

[Update: This beautiful tribute by Molly Ivins is well worth reading. It captures Richards' wit perfectly.]