Q&A with Michael Hull
In the spring of 1995, Austin lawyer and photography-enthusiast Michael Hull found himself in a self-described "interesting intersection in time"or at least Texas time.
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POPULAR DEMOCRAT ANN RICHARDS WAS out of office after a four-year run as governor, with plenty of time on her hands to ponder her next move. Richards headed out to West Texas with a dozen confidants, including Michael Hull, to talk about what was next. Hull not only talked, but he also captured the three-day excursion on film. Here he shares his memories of his time with Ann:
texasmonthly.com: How did you come to be invited on this trip?
Michael Hull: Mignon, my wife, is a lobbyist— Mignon McGarry. So she was there. I was an appointee of the governor’s to one of the state agencies. We knew other people that were going. Who knows why we were invited. There were about a dozen of us, and it was nice. It was post-election, more informal. She’s just so visionary. I always think the photographs reflected that. We all went out there in March, so she [Richards] was sort of in this looking ahead, what-am-I-going-to-do-now mode. That’s what we were doing. She was trying to decide what the next chapter was going to look like, and we were invited to come along and talk about that and meet Harry Middleton. We saw art exhibits out there and looked at the [McDonald] observatory and talked.
texasmonthly.com: When you look back on the experience, what other memories stand out to you?
MH: We all went to the observatory one night. So there’s this person I’m just so fond of and she’s just so vibrant. She had this great curiosity at the observatory. I’ve never forgotten that. She had this tremendous capacity to ask and inquire and learn and want to know new things. Beyond that, Harry [Middleton] told some great stories. He was LBJ’s speechwriter. He tells this story about having written the speech Johnson gave the night he announced he wouldn’t seek reelection. He wrote all but the last paragraph, which Johnson inserted, so he was telling those kinds of stories. I was just thrilled to be there.
texasmonthly.com: How long do you and Richards go back?
MH: I knew her, but Mignon is the political person in our family. So no great relationship, just right place at right time.
texasmonthly.com: How is Richards representative of Texas women?
MH: There are the doors that opened for all people—not really just women—with the way she addressed her disease of alcoholism. I really think that long-term the state has benefited from her national profile. I think she is one of the ways the state is identified, and that’s because of her appearances on Larry King Live and her work in Washington and New York. I think she’s given us an updated and modern look. I really think she’ll go down in history as being one of those catalyst kind of people, and I’m privileged just to have known her.
texasmonthly.com: Was she in good spirits post-election?
MH: She was happier than I thought she would be given the election. She was really fairly at peace. She thought she’d done a lot of good things and had a lot of support. I think she was somewhat reflective. I thought she was maybe relieved or certainly didn’t regret not having to deal with the pressure of public life. Overall I thought she had the same kind of happiness I thought she had throughout her term.