Millionaire oilman-rancher Clayton Williams captured the Republican nomination for governor Tuesday in his first bid for office. State Treasurer Ann Richards and Attorney General Jim Mattox survived a bruising Democratic primary to meet in an April 10 runoff.
``When we began this journey, there weren't a whole lot of folks who gave us a shot at the governor's office,' a jubilant Williams told supporters in Austin. ``In the words of that world famous philosopher Jackie Gleason, 'How sweet it is.' 'Mattox said he wanted to congratulate Richards on ``making the runoff,' and told supporters: ``I may not be pretty and I may not be the funniest but I tell you one thing I'm the winningest and I've got some friends.'
Richards, who had been locked in a three-way mudslinging battle, told her campaign workers: ``Well this is gonna be a good night, y'all. But do you have enough money for a runoff?'
Williams, who calls himself ``just a country boy' and admits to occasional fistfights, spent $8 million - $6 million from his own pocket - in rolling to victory over six other Republicans. On the Democratic side, Richards and Mattox crushed the comeback hopes of former Gov. Mark White, but neither of them was able to gain enough support to avoid a costly runoff.
With 30 percent of precincts counted, Williams led the GOP field with 191,798 votes or 64 percent. Railroad Commissioner Kent Hance, a former Democratic congressman, was a distant second with 46,720 votes or 16 percent, followed by Tom Luce, a lawyer for billionaire H. Ross Perot, with 31,740 votes or 11 percent. Former Secretary of State Jack Rains of Houston was fourth with 25,480 votes or 9 percent.
Hance conceded as it became clear Williams was piling up far more than the bare majority he needed to avoid a runoff.
``We didn't have enough votes tonight by a long shot,' Hance said. ``If I'm going to lose, I'm going to do it with class.'
On the Democratic side, with 40 percent of precincts counted, Richards was out front with 236,112 votes or 38 percent, closely followed by Attorney General Jim Mattox, with 232,460 votes or 38 percent. White was running a distant third with 121,856 votes or 20 percent. Four other candidates divided the remaining vote.
White also conceded, acknowledging that Richards and Mattox would meet in the runoff.
``I have never loved Texas more and I pray for its success,' White said.
Texas was the first state to hold its primary leading to the November off-year elections.