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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ann Richards 1933-2006


Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas, in 2004.


By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: September 13, 2006

Former Texas Governor Ann Richards Dies at 73
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Former Gov. Ann Richards, the witty and flamboyant Democrat who went from homemaker to national political celebrity, died Wednesday night after a battle with cancer, a family spokeswoman said. She was 73.

She died at home surrounded by her family, the spokeswoman said. Richards was found to have esophageal cancer in March and underwent chemotherapy treatments.

The silver-haired, silver-tongued Richards said she entered politics to help others -- especially women and minorities who were often ignored by Texas' male-dominated establishment.

''I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean house.' I think I'd like them to remember me by saying, 'She opened government to everyone,''' Richards said shortly before leaving office in January 1995.

She was governor for one term, losing her re-election bid to Republican George W. Bush.

Her four adult children spent Wednesday with her, said family spokeswoman Cathy Bonner, a longtime family friend.

''They're a strong group of people but they're broken-hearted, of course,'' Bonner said.

Her family said as governor she was most proud of two actions that probably cost her re-election. She vetoed legislation that would allow people to carry concealed handguns, automatic weapons and ''cop-killer bullets.'' She also vetoed a bill that would have allowed the destruction of the environment over the Edwards Aquifer.

She grabbed the national spotlight with her keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention when she was the Texas state treasurer. Richards won cheers from delegates when she reminded them that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, ''only backwards and in high heels.''

Richards sealed her partisan reputation with a blast at George H. Bush, a fellow Texan who was vice president at the time: ''Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.''

Four years later, she was chairwoman of the Democratic convention that nominated Bill Clinton for president.

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.

posted by Steve @ 12:16:00 AM

12:16:00 AM

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