STORMING THE STATEHOUSE: Running for Governor with Ann Richards and Dianne Feinstein by Celia Morris

STORMING THE STATEHOUSE: Running for Governor with Ann Richards and Dianne Feinstein

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Weighted report on the 1990 Democratic campaigns of Ann Richards, who won the statehouse in Texas, and Dianne Feinstein, who lost it in California; by the author of Fanny Wright: Rebel in America (not reviewed). Morris burdens her reading of the two races by trying to forge feminist lessons from the stories of two very different 58-year-old women in contests that broke records for cost (around $50 million) rather than high-mindedness. To the author, Ann Richards's ""triumph""--winning in the state ""that set the American standard for macho""--""was not only a tribute to her courage, shrewdness, tenacity, and luck, but a cultural phenomenon tantamount to revolution."" The Waco-born perfectionist with the ""hard hair,"" briefly in the spotlight making fun of George Bush at the 1988 Democratic convention, seems to have won by counterattacking her cowboy-style opponent, businessman Clayton Williams, whose campaign collapsed. (As Morris puts it, he ""shot off the lower half of his body."") In the author's view, Dianne Feinstein, who'd become San Francisco mayor when George Moscone was assassinated, won the nomination because she had ""a rich husband"" and ""the television camera loved her."" Throughout, Morris relies on what campaign advisers thought and what newspapers reported; she fails to dig any deeper. The controversial financial dealings of Feinstein's husband she discusses at the hypothetical level of ""widgets."" Feinstein lost a close race, in Morris's view, because she couldn't distinguish herself from Republican Pete Wilson, and made mistakes. An agenda-driven play-by-play that's told too far from the heat of the field.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Scribners