On this day in history: Ann Richards sworn in as Texas governor in 1991

ByCharlie Haldeman KTRK logo
Friday, January 15, 2021
This day in history: Ann Richards becomes Texas governor
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She was the second woman to hold Texas' highest office, but was widely considered to be the first to be effective. Here's a look back at 30 years ago.

Today marks 30 years since Ann Richards was sworn in as Texas governor, making her only the second woman in history to hold the office.

Richards took the oath of office on Jan. 15, 1991 after defeating oilman Clayton Williams in a close, but bitter election. She won after serving as Texas State Treasurer for eight years.

Richards took office as the Texas political landscape continued to change from a one-party state run by Democrats to a one-party state run by the GOP, a trend that holds today. She was the last Democrat to hold the office.

While only serving one term, Richards is credited with reforming the Texas prison system, vehicle insurance requirements, school finance measures, and the creation of the Texas Lottery.

She was defeated in the 1994 Republican landslide that swept the country at the time, losing to George W. Bush in his first successful political run.

Jan. 15, 1991 was also notable in Texas politics with the swearing-in of Kay Bailey Hutchison as State Treasurer. Hutchison went on to become the first woman to represent Texas in the United States Senate two years later. Bush went on to become 43rd President of the United States in 2001.

After her 1994 defeat, Richards became an advisor at communications and law firms and returned to her roots as a teacher at the University of Texas for a semester in 2005. She died of cancer on Sept. 13, 2006 at the age of 72.