Texas gubernatorial election, 1990

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Texas gubernatorial election, 1990
1986 ←
November 6, 1990 → 1994

  Ann Richards.jpg
Candidate Ann Richards Clayton Williams
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,925,670 1,826,431
Percentage 49.5% 46.9%


County Results

Seal of the Governor of Texas.svg
Governor before election

Bill Clements

Elected Seal of the Governor of Texas.svg

Anne Richards

The 1990 Texas gubernatorial election was held on November 6, 1990, to select the Governor of the state of Texas. The race pitted state treasurer Ann Richards against Midland businessman Clayton Williams. Richards, the Democratic Party's nominee, emerged victorious over Republican candidate Williams by a narrow margin on Election Day.

Bill Clements, the incumbent governor, chose not to seek election to a third term in office (second consecutive). Fallout from Clements' role in the Southern Methodist University football scandal, which he had attempted to cover up, overshadowed his years in office and he had also faced impeachment during his term for it.



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 Runoff
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ann Richards 580,191 51.68
Democratic Jim Mattox 481,739 48.32
Total votes 1,122,734 100.00


Williams spent freely from his personal fortune, running a "Good Old Boy" campaign initially appealing to conservatives.[2] Prior to a series of legendary gaffes, he was leading Richards (the race was dubbed "Claytie vs. The Lady")[3] 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.[4]

In one of his widely publicized missteps, Williams refused to shake hands with Ann Richards in a public debate, an act seen as uncouth. Senator John Tower had similarly refused to shake the hand of Democratic opponent Robert Krueger in a 1978 appearance in Houston[citation needed] but went on to win a fourth term by a narrow margin.

Earlier, Williams made an infamous joke to reporters, likening bad weather to rape, having quipped: "If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it".[5] 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.[6][7] His sense of humor was again demonstrated when he urged Hispanic Americans to support his candidacy because he met Modesta in a Mexican restaurant[citation needed]. 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.[8] Richards was sworn-in as the 45th Governor of Texas on January 15, 1991.


1990 Texas Governor's Race
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Ann Richards 1,925,670 49.47% +3.5%
Republican Clayton W. "Claytie" Williams, Jr. 1,826,431 46.92% -5.8%
Libertarian Jeff Daiell 129,128 3.32% +2.08%
Majority 99,239 2.55%
Turnout 3,892,746
Democratic gain from Republican Swing


  1. ^ Texas Alamac
  2. ^ Texas Since World War II, Handbook of Texas Online, Robert A. Calvert.
  3. ^ New book relates wild political, personal life of Clayton Williams
  4. ^ 1990 Gubernatorial General Election Results - Texas
  5. ^ "Texas Candidate's Comment About Rape Causes a Furor". The New York Times. March 26, 1990. 
  6. ^ New book relates wild political, personal life of Clayton Williams, LubbockOnline.com, Kelly Shannon, August 14, 2007
  7. ^ Trick Town, Dallas Observer, Joe Pappalardo, May 31, 2001.
  8. ^ "KERA "Voters' Revenge" videos frightfully pointed". The Dallas Morning News. October 31, 1990.