In 1994, Bush was elected governor of Texas, defeating the incumbent, Ann Richards. In office he won a reputation for being able to forge bipartisan coalitions with the conservative legislature's Democrats, and won passage of changes to tort laws and the welfare, public-school, and juvenile-justice systems. His most significant setback occurred when legislative Republicans deserted his tax-system overhaul. Bush was reelected in 1998 by a landslide.
In 1999, Bush officially began his campaign for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, and quickly raised record campaign funding. Widely regarded as the favorite Republican hopeful, Bush won a majority of convention delegates in the primaries and became the GOP's candidate. Although he appeared generally to lead in the polls, he ultimately lost the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore. However, Bush secured the presidency with a victory in the electoral college when he won Florida by a narrow margin, having outlasted Gore's attempt to challenge the Florida vote-counting process in court. He thus became the first person in more than a century to win the presidency without achieving a plurality in the popular vote.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.