Gov. Ann Richards of Texas delivered her first state of the state speech last week, described herself as "the new kid on the block" and received star treatment in Washington during the National Governors Association meeting. She got a standing ovation when she spoke to her colleagues and she turned down two network television requests to appear on interview shows. She was asked often about national ambitions, but kept saying she was content to stay in Texas.
Texas has gotten so big that its best politicians almost automatically qualify as national prospects. Democratic Sen. Lloyd Bentsen is one of the leading possibilities for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992. Republican Sen. Phil Gramm appears to be laying the financial, organizational and political groundwork for a 1996 run. And why not? There was a Texan on a national ticket in five of the last eight presidential campaigns.
You should expect Texas to be at least as prominent in national politics in the future as it was in the past. The 1990 Census figures show the Lone Star state is fewer than a million residents behind New York. It grew at a 19.4 percent rate in the last decade. If existing growth rates continue, it will pass New York, and become the nation's second most populous state by the middle of the decade.