1990 Texas gubernatorial election

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1990 Texas gubernatorial election

← 1986 November 6, 1990 1994 →
  Ann Richards, Governor of Texas.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Ann Richards Clayton Williams
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,925,670 1,826,431
Percentage 49.5% 46.9%

Texas Gubernatorial Election Results by County, 1990.svg
County results

Richards:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%

Williams:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

Governor before election

Bill Clements

Elected Governor

Ann Richards

The 1990 Texas gubernatorial election was held on November 6, 1990 to elect the Governor of Texas. Incumbent Republican Governor Bill Clements did not run for re-election, so the election pitted Democrat Ann Richards against Republican Clayton Williams. Richards narrowly defeated Williams on Election Day, winning 50% of the vote to Williams' 47%. As of 2019, this is the most recent election in which a Democrat was elected Governor of Texas.



Republican primary results [1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Clayton Williams 520,014 60.80
Republican Kent Hance 132,142 14.35
Republican Tom Luce 115,835 13.54
Republican Jack Rains 82,461 9.64
Republican W.N. Otwell 2,310 0.27
Republican Royce X. Owens 1,392 0.16
Republican Ed Cude 1,077 0.13
Total votes 855,231 100.00


Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ann Richards 580,191 39.01
Democratic Jim Mattox 546,103 38.72
Democratic Mark White 288,161 19.38
Democratic Theresa Hearn-Haynes 31,395 2.11
Democratic Earl Holmes 17,904 1.20
Democratic Stanley Adams 16,118 1.08
Democratic Ray Rachal 9,388 0.63
Total votes 1,487,734 100.00
Democratic primary runoff results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ann Richards 640,995 57.09
Democratic Jim Mattox 481,739 42.91
Total votes 1,122,734 100.00


Midland businessman Clayton Williams handily won the Republican primary. Williams's margin of victory, for example, exceeded that of former Congressman and soon-to-be-former Railroad Commissioner Kent Hance by more than 45 percentage points. Ironically, it was who did not run who perhaps had a good chance at winning re-election. T. Boone Pickens, CEO of Amarillo's Mesa Petroleum, was considered a likely candidate for much of 1989. However, on August 30, 1989, Pickens announced at a luncheon in Dallas that he would not run for the governorship in 1990. But Pickens, who also announced he would be relocating from Amarillo to Dallas, said he would consider a run for the governorship in 1994. [2]

George W. Bush, who had just become part owner of the Texas Rangers baseball club, also declined to run for governor after briefly exploring a run for the governorship in 1990. He did so on the advice of his mother. [3] [4]

Meanwhile, Democrat Ann Richards placed first in a six-person primary that included Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox and former governor Mark White, the latter of whom sought to return to the governor's mansion four years after losing his bid to remain Governor of Texas.

Williams spent freely from his personal fortune, running a "Good Old Boy" campaign initially appealing to conservatives.[5] Prior to a series of gaffes, he was leading Richards (the race was dubbed "Claytie vs. The Lady")[6] in the polls and was in striking distance of becoming only the second Republican governor of Texas since Reconstruction. Meanwhile, Libertarian nominee Jeff Daiell was launching a TV campaign which, combined with personal appearances across Texas, boosted him to a showing of 129,128 votes. His drawing power made Richards the first Texas governor in many years elected without a majority.[7]

In one of his widely publicized missteps, Williams refused to shake hands with Ann Richards in a public debate, an act seen as uncouth. Earlier, Williams made an infamous joke to reporters, likening bad weather to rape, having quipped: "If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it".[8] In addition, it has been claimed that as an undergraduate at Texas A&M, he had participated in visits to the Chicken Ranch, a well-known Texas brothel in La Grange, and the Boy's Towns of Mexico.[9][10] As a result of his reported comments, Williams was occasionally parodied, such as in the mock political ad, "Satan Williams", which appeared on Dallas/Fort Worth public television during the 1990 campaign season.[11] Richards was sworn-in as the 45th Governor of Texas on January 15, 1991.


General election results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ann Richards 1,925,670 49.47%
Republican Clayton Williams 1,826,431 46.92%
Libertarian Jeff Daiell 129,128 3.32%
Majority 99,239 2.55%
Total votes 3,881,229 100.00%
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^ Texas Alamac
  2. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/1989-08-31/business/fi-2034_1_pickens-governor-run
  3. ^ Galvestn Daily News, 29 April 1989, p. 7.
  4. ^ https://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/dont-call-him-junior/
  5. ^ Texas Since World War II, Handbook of Texas Online, Robert A. Calvert.
  6. ^ New book relates wild political, personal life of Clayton Williams Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ 1990 Gubernatorial General Election Results – Texas
  8. ^ "Texas Candidate's Comment About Rape Causes a Furor". The New York Times. March 26, 1990.
  9. ^ New book relates wild political, personal life of Clayton Williams Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, LubbockOnline.com, Kelly Shannon, August 14, 2007
  10. ^ Trick Town, Dallas Observer, Joe Pappalardo, May 31, 2001.
  11. ^ "KERA "Voters' Revenge" videos frightfully pointed". The Dallas Morning News. October 31, 1990.

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