As the first woman elected to statewide office in Texas, the first woman president of the Texas State Teachers Association, a suffragist leader and the driving force behind some of the most sweeping changes in public education in our state’s history – some might call Dr. Annie Webb Blanton a trailblazer. She understood that raising awareness about the plight of women and children was not enough. And she understood that meaningful change would only occur when more women had a seat at the table where decisions were being made. So she took action and ran for office herself.
In her 1918 campaign for State Superintendent for Public Instruction, Annie Blanton was called an atheist and political tool for Governor Bill Hobby by her two male primary opponents – which included the incumbent, Walter Doughty. She fought back and highlighted Doughty’s close relationships with the recently impeached Governor James Ferguson and breweries around the state. She ran a tough campaign and won handily with the help of women voters, voting for the first time in a primary election, in the July primary. The following November, she made history as the first woman elected statewide in Texas, without the help of women voters who could not yet vote in general elections.
Annie Blanton went on to prove that women could not only win tough campaigns, but that they could govern as well. It was under her leadership that a system of free textbooks was established, teacher’s salaries were raised and rural education was dramatically improved. It is in honor of her spirit and incredible accomplishments that Annie’s List works so hard to change the face of power and put even more women at the table to guide the future of our great state. She set the bar for what women can and must do to keep Texas moving forward!