Texas mourns Ann Richards, 'one of its great daughters'

Click to follow
The Independent US

Texas was in mourning yesterday for the loss of Ann Richards, a former governor of the state, campaigner for the advancement of women, and one of the most colourful American politicians of her generation.

Ms Richards, 73, died at home in Austin on Wednesday, six months after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. "Texas has lost one of its great daughters," President George Bush said. "Ann loved Texas, and Texans loved her."

Her six years of national political prominence began and ended with men named George Bush. She leapt to fame in 1988 when, as Texas state treasurer, she delivered the keynote speech at the Democratic convention that nominated Michael Dukakis. "Poor George, he can't help it, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth," she declared in an exaggerated Texas drawl, mocking the elder George Bush, who would defeat Mr Dukakis in that November's election.

Two years later she was elected governor, and went on to improve the education system and appoint women and minorities to senior posts, in the name of building a "New Texas". Her personal popularity never dropped below 60 per cent.

In 1994 the Bush family had its revenge, as George W Bush defeated her and launched the political career that in 2001 carried him to the White House. Her shrewdness and wit meant that her services continued to be in demand, first as a television commentator and then as a political consultant. She also raised four children.