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‘Friendship State’ Slogan Too ‘Wimpy’ for Texas, Gubernatorial Hopefuls Say

July 27, 1989

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ A plan to print ″The Friendship State″ on Texas license plates has stirred up gubernatorial candidates, who say Texans are too tough for such a slogan.

″It’s wimpy,″ said Democratic state Treasurer Ann Richards, the first of the gubernatorial hopefuls to join the chorus of opponents to the slogan approved last week by the state Highway and Public Transportation Commission.

Friendship is too generic a term for Texas, where the tough ″Don’t Mess With Texas″ anti-littering slogan has proven so popular, Ms. Richards said.

″I think the reason the ‘Don’t Mess With Texas’ thing has been so successful is that it sort of continues that image that we’re great, we’re wonderful, we think we are,″ she said. ″The friendly state - you could put that on Kansas, Ohio.″

Ms. Richards said she agreed with hundreds of callers who have suggested putting the ″Lone Star State″ nickname on plates.

Jack Rains, the former secretary of state who launched his Republican gubernatorial bid Tuesday, agreed.

″I kind of like the ’Lone Star State,‴ Rains said. ″The rest of that stuff looked a little quiche and chablis to me.″

Attorney General Jim Mattox, who is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, said newspapers should run ballots with several slogan options that people could mail in.

″That way, we wouldn’t have to go through an expensive ballot proposition of having the public actually vote on the matter, but the people would have the decision-making in their hands,″ Mattox said.

Indeed, two news organizations have found strong opposition to the license plates.

Some 4,000 people responded to a phone-in poll by The Dallas Times Herald, and 64 percent were against the new plates. In Houston the negative vote was even more resounding: More than 2,700 viewers who called KHOU-TV, and 89 percent said they opposed the new design.

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