Dolph Briscoe survived a surprisingly strong challenge from Republican Henry Grover on Nov. 7, 1972, but the 6% showing by the Raza Unida candidate made the Democrat the first Texas governor in 78 years elected without a clear majority of the votes.

State law can be confusing when it comes to choosing the chief executive. Since 1918, the two main political parties have been required to hold a runoff, if no contestant receives half of the primary vote. Not so in the general election, which has always been a winner-takes-all contest.

Bartee Haile writes This Week In Texas History which appears every Sunday. He welcomes your comments and questions or P.O. Box 130011, Spring, TX 77393 and invites you to visit his website at

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