Texas Almanac, 2004-2005 Page: 395
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Republicans Take Total Control of State Government
By Carolyn Barta
The historic 2002 elections marked the final step in
the Republicanization of Texas.
For the first time in 130 years, Republicans took
total control of state government by electing the gover-
nor and all other officials running statewide and win-
ning a majority in both houses of the Legislature.
Rick Perry moved out of the shadows of former
Gov. George W. Bush by keeping his post as governor
in a decisive but hard-fought victory over Democrat
Tony Sanchez, a millionaire Laredo banker and oilman
who set a gubernatorial spending record of $67 million
- most of it his own money - in his first campaign for
Perry, the former lieutenant governor, automatically
moved up to be governor in December 2000 after Bush
was elected president. But Sanchez' charge that "we
didn't elect him, we don't have to keep him," failed to
resonate with voters.
Both U.S. Senate seats remained in Republican
hands as John Cornyn, the state's attorney general and a
former Texas Supreme Court justice, succeeded retir-
ing senator Phil Gramm. Cornyn defeated Ron Kirk, a
dynamic former Dallas mayor and the secretary of state
under Gov. Ann Richards.
Election of a new junior senator made Kay Bailey
Hutchison the senior senator from Texas.
Dream Team Hopes
Millionaire David Dewhurst, who was finishing his
first term as land commissioner, wiped out the Demo-
crats' best hope for statewide office when he defeated
John Sharp for lieutenant governor.
Sharp had an enviable record in state government as
a former legislator and comptroller but was unable to
buck the Republican landslide led by the tremendous
popularity of President Bush.
Democrats longed for a comeback in 2002 after
being shut out of every statewide office for three con-
They thought chances were good because they
fielded a diverse top-of-the-ballot ticket that they said
looked like the face of Texas.
Sharp was instrumental in the creation of the Demo-
cratic "dream team" - a trio of top candidates who
would appeal to changing demographics such as a
mushrooming Hispanic population.
The team included Sharp, a moderate white candi-
date with strong name identification; Sanchez, a
wealthy Hispanic willing to spend on behalf of the
ticket; and Kirk, who would have been the first black
senator from Texas.
Kirk's campaign drew national attention because
only three black U.S. senators have been elected since
the post-Civil War era, and none from the South.
However, the multiracial coalition lacked the politi-
cal clout of President Bush, who made repeated cam-
paign trips to his home state. Other members of the
Bush family, Vice President Dick Cheney and Cabinet
members also campaigned for the Texas GOP.
Republican Gov. Rick Perry, right, and Democratic challenger
Tony Sanchez shake hands at a campaign debate. File photo.
Bush's final appearance for Cornyn and the Texas
Republican ticket came on election eve. Texas GOP
candidates played up their closeness to a president
whose popularity had grown following the Sept. 11,
2001, terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington,
D.C. and Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, non-Hispanic white voters, who
favored Republicans, far outnumbered the turnout of
the growing Hispanic voting population.
When the Legislature convened in January 2003,
Republicans had a majority in the Texas House for the
first time since Reconstruction days. It was the first ses-
sion since the 1869-1871 period that Republicans held
the office of governor and a majority in both houses of
Perry, once a Democrat, switched parties when he
was a state representative, and later was elected agricul-
ture commissioner and lieutenant governor as a Repub-
He became only the third Republican governor
since E.J. Davis held the post during Reconstruction,
following Bill Clements (1978-82, 1986-90) and
George W. Bush (1994-2000).
The Texas House of Representatives had remained
the last bastion of Democratic power in Austin until
2002. But redistricting following the 2000 census
enabled the election of 88 Republicans among 150
The change in partisan control resulted in the elec-
tion of the first Republican speaker since the 19th cen-
tury - Tom Craddick of Midland, an oilfield supplier
Here’s what’s next.
This book can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Book.
Alvarez, Elizabeth Cruce. Texas Almanac, 2004-2005, book, 2004; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth162511/m1/395/: accessed November 30, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.