In the 1990 gubernatorial race, polls showed Richards trailing. An opponent told the press he hoped Richards wouldn't go back to drinking because of it. The remark offended voters and Richards pulled ahead and won the election.
"Among Richards' accomplishments as governor of Texas was to add 2,000 treatment beds in state prison, with funding for a total of 14,000 beds getting legislative approval. However, when Richards lost the governor's seat to George W. Bush, he slashed the program; today, Texas has just 3,250 treatment beds for prisoners." Source.
Richards later lost her shine as a recovery hero when she went to work as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry. But she is best remembered as the politician who won the respect of the voters by being open and up-front about her addiction and her recovery.