"A Texas governor has only two happy days: the day he is inaugurated and the day he retires."
So spoke Joseph D. Sayers at the beginning of the twentieth century. Now, in an analysis of the Texas governorship by Fred Gantt, Jr., the reader learns why Governor Sayers' remark remains true many years after it was uttered: the office has come to be so demanding that the reader may ask why anyone would want it. Price Daniel described a typical day: "The governor's job is a night-and-day job; I usually get up in the morning about seven and start answering the telephone, and then look over the mail that has come in late the day before. I sign mail before going over to the office and then have interviews most of the day. . . . In the evening at the Mansion I take calls and messages until late in the night."
The Chief Executive in Texas is much more than a book full of interesting facts: It is a discerning political commentary built on a broad historical foundation that places events and persons in a perspective perhaps not previously considered by the reader.
The office of chief executive in other states also is explored, as well as the decline and rise of executive power as it has been limited in various constitutions in Texas and as it has developed through custom. The account of the governor's relationship with the Legislature is historically valuable. Especially interesting to many readers will be the discussions of the political roles of individual Texas governors, whose ranks include "Ma" and "Pa" Ferguson and "Pappy" O'Daniel. These studies are personally revealing, and they attest that polities in Texas apparently can never be dull.
Fred Gantt, Jr. (1922–1975) was Professor of Political Science at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas), Denton, Texas.