AUSTIN, TEXAS — OIL and telecommunications king Clayton Williams swept the Texas Republican primary race for governor, with more than 60 percent of the ballots. And GOP officials bragged Wednesday that they will be able to take over the government of this traditionally Democratic state by November. In the Democratic primary, State Treasurer Ann Richards and Attorney General Jim Mattox wound up in a runoff, following the bitterest campaign in recent memory. Supporters fear that they will do so much damage to each other between now and the April 10 elections that Williams will wind up in the governor's chair.
``I can hardly wait for Clayton Williams to teach us the joys of busting liberal Democrats - assuming there are pieces left to bust after Jim Mattox and Ann Richards get through with each other,'' crowed GOP chairman Fred Meyer.
But Mr. Mattox pointed out that Mr. Williams came in third among the state's top vote getters in Tuesday's elections. Ms. Richards won 572,000 votes and Mattox, 537,000. Williams, who spent $9 million on the race including $6 million of his own money, received 518,000 votes.
Texas Democratic chairman Bob Slagle dubbed him ``Blatant Millions,'' noting the high rolling west Texas political newcomer has spent ``$15 per vote. A that pace, Williams could spend a third of his net worth running for governor.''
Political enemies dismiss Williams as a clown with a goofy smile. But Williams, the founder of 26 companies, is a shrewd campaigner. His friendliness and appeal to Texas' cowboy heritage swept him past three opponents to a landslide. A self-confessed fist fighter, he promised to sit back and enjoy the spectacle of his two Democratic foes engaged in what promises to be a tough fight.