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1978 Texas gubernatorial election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1978 Texas gubernatorial election

← 1974 November 7, 1978 1982 →
Bill Clements.jpg
No image.svg
Nominee Bill Clements John Luke Hill
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 1,183,828 1,166,919
Percentage 50.0% 49.2%

Texas Gubernatorial Election Results by County, 1978.svg
County results

Clements:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%
Hill:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%

Compeán:      50–60%

Governor before election

Dolph Briscoe

Elected Governor

Bill Clements

The 1978 Texas gubernatorial election was held on November 7, 1978, to elect the Governor of Texas. In a surprising upset, Republican Bill Clements was narrowly elected over Democrat State Attorney General John Luke Hill, winning 50% of the vote to Hill's 49%. In doing so, Clements became the first Republican to be elected governor since Reconstruction.

Republican Party





Republican primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bill Clements 115,345 72.82
Republican Ray Hutchison 38,268 24.16
Republican Clarence Thompson 4,790 3.02
Total votes 158,403 100.00

Democratic Party

Dolph Briscoe, who had first been elected in 1972 and was easily re-elected in 1974, had become increasingly unpopular within the Texas Democratic Party during his six years in office. John Luke Hill fielded a primary challenge against the Governor, as a liberal alternative to Briscoe, who represented the more conservative, rural faction of the party. Dissatisfaction with Briscoe prompted former Governor Preston Smith to enter the race, running as a populist alternative to the other two candidates. Briscoe had previously defeated Smith in the 1972 primary.




Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Luke Hill 932,245 52.44%
Democratic Dolph Briscoe 753,309 42.37%
Democratic Preston Smith 92,202 5.19%
Total votes 1,777,756 100


General election results
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bill Clements 1,183,828 49.96
Democratic John Luke Hill 1,166,919 49.24
Raza Unida Mario C. Compeán 14,213 0.59
Socialist Workers Sara Johnston 4,624 0.19
Total votes 2,369,999 100.00

Further reading

  • Bridges, Kenneth. Twilight of the Texas Democrats: The 1978 Governor’s Race (Texas A&M University Press, 2008), 219 pp.
  • Cunningham, Sean P. Cowboy Conservatism: Texas and the Rise of the Modern Right. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2010.


(1) Bill Clements bio [1]

(2) Gubernatorial Debate on October 24, 1978 at KPRC-TV Studios in Houston [2]

(3) Republican Primary Gubernatorial Debate in 1978 [3]

(4) Gubernatorial Debate on October 27, 1978 at KERA-TV Studios in Dallas [4]


This page was last edited on 27 October 2020, at 17:52
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