Minority Report

For African Americans, the climb to high office in Texas has been a steep one—until now, as Republicans and Democrats vie for new voters.
MEANS OF ASCENT: Will minorities reach the top in '02?
Illustration by Arthur Giron

When Texas railroad commission chairman Michael Williams ran for county attorney in Midland in 1984, he and his campaign manager were disturbed by a poll showing that 25 percent of the voters in the Republican primary would never vote for a black candidate. This was grim news for Williams, who is indeed both a Republican and an African American.

“That dictated our campaign,” recalls Williams, who was the chief prosecutor in the district attorney’s office at the time. “We ran a race where nobody saw me. I rarely got out. No picture—it wasn’t on anything. We just tried to tell every award I’d ever won.”

Three weeks before the election, he and his campaign manager looked at each other and agreed,

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