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William P. Clements
28.    Bill Clements

William P. Clements was born April 17, 1917, in Dallas. After his family lost their farm in the Depression, Clements worked as an oil-field roughneck before attending college. The oil fields interested him more than school and he began a career in drilling. In 1947, he and two partners borrowed the money to buy two oil drilling rigs, a venture that grew into SEDCO, the world's largest offshore drilling company. Clements served as deputy U.S. secretary of defense in the Nixon and Ford administrations.

Clements stunned political observers when he won an upset victory to become the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction. He brought his business acumen to state government, insisting on sound budgeting and management policies. He also worked for tough anti-crime measures and improvements in the teaching of basics in the public schools, and made strides in improving Texas relations with Mexico. The beginnings of a severe economic downturn led to Clements' defeat for reelection in 1982.

William P. Clements
Bill and Rita Clements
Clements was reelected in 1986, four years after his defeat against Democrat Mark White. In the interim, he had served as chairman of the board of governors of Southern Methodist University, a time at which the school was rocked by a scandal in the football program.

Clements spent much of his second term dealing with the continuing prison overcrowding problem. He also was an enthusiastic supporter of the War on Drugs and other national crime prevention efforts. The recession in Texas continued to be severe, and Clements focused his attentions on job creation, economic diversification, and the recruitment of out-of-state companies. Texas was ordered by the courts to find a more equitable way of funding public schools between rich and poor districts, and considerable effort was spent trying to find a solution. He chose not to run again in 1990.

Today, Clements is retired from public life and lives in Dallas. He operates two ranches in Forney and Kaufman where he raises black Brangus cattle.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: link: Texas State Library.

Texas Politics:
© 2006, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
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