Texas Treasurer Ann Richards, displaying the biting wit that enlivened her keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention last summer, announced Saturday that she will run for governor. She is expected to face Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox in a bitter fight for the Democratic nomination.

The Texas economy needs new leadership after a long downslide fueled by oil and real estate busts, Ms. Richards told about 1,000 supporters at the state Capitol.

``You know, Sam Rayburn used to say that any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one,'' Richards said, quoting the powerful former US House Speaker from Texas.

``Today you and I become carpenters,'' she told the gathering.

Richards gained notoriety in her convention speech in Atlanta in July when she attacked Republican policies saying, ``That dog won't hunt.''

The pithy state treasurer's declaration that then-Vice President George Bush was born with a silver foot in his mouth prompted Bush to send her a silver foot pin, which Richards wore when the President addressed the Legislature earlier this year.

Richards may get to ply her wit against another George Bush, the President's son, a Dallas businessman who is a probable Republican candidate for governor. Other possible GOP contenders include Secretary of State Jack Rains, Texas Railroad Commission chairman Kent Hance, and oilman T. Boone Pickens.

Asked about the possibility of facing the President's son as a candidate in the 1990 election, Richards said, ``I have a primary to take care of. ... One day at a time. One election at a time.''

Richards would be the state's first woman governor since Miriam Ferguson was elected in 1924.

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