CLAYTIE VERSUS THE LADY
Clayton Williams v. Ann Richards, Governor, Texas, 1990
If there was ever a candidate who should have won an election and did not, it is Clayton Williams. As the Republican nominee for governor of Texas in 1990, he had everything going for him. He had the swaggering, John Wayne cowboy image, which Texans admire. He was a self-made millionaire, and had the fund-raising edge to go along with it. He was a conservative in a conservative state that was trending Republican, as most other southern states were in the 1990s. And he faced an opponent in Democratic nominee Ann Richards who had a controversial public image and a history of personal problems.
Newsweek described the contest as between "a millionaire political novice who sits on a white horse, tips his Stetson hat when he greets a woman and has settled at least a couple of disagreements with fisticuffs… and a feminist and recovering alcoholic who put her white bouffant on the national map by telling the country (at the 1988 Democratic National Convention) that President George Bush was 'born with a silver foot in his mouth.'"1 A cowboy versus a feminist? In Texas?
But something happened that cost Clayton Williams the election. He opened his mouth.
His campaign advisers probably wish he had developed laryngitis—a bad enough case that would have lasted through election day. From the moment he secured the Republican nomination, he said one dumb, insulting thing after another. The end result, according to most analysts and observers, was that he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.