We knew this day would come: Music and the Arts Category Final … Willie Nelson vs. George Strait. Who is the most Texan of these two Texans? You can cast your vote right now. You don’t have to have voted in the preliminary rounds to participate now — you can join the voting at any time.
In voting on Monday, Willie rolled against Stevie Ray Vaughan and George Strait had little problem with author Larry McMurtry. In the Actors and Athletes category, the actors went down as Longhorns legend Earl Campbell easily topped No. 1 seed Tommy Lee Jones and Cowboys legend Tom Landry dispatched Matthew McConaughey in similar fashion.
In the Politics and History category, local favorite Ann Richards earned a surprise victory over No. 1 seed Barbara Jordan as Lady Bird Johnson upset “Father of Texas” Stephen F. Austin in the only close contest of the day. In the Wildcard category, No. 1 seed Audie Murphy put an end to Hallie Stillwell’s Cinderella run and Dan Rather stopped Molly Ivins, who had gained steam in the second round after a 1-vote win in her opening contest.
With Ivins and Austin out, the remaining contestants — two women and six men — were all born and raised in Texas. Let’s look at the last stops before Wednesday’s Final Four …
MUSIC AND THE ARTS
Willie Nelson vs. George Strait
This matchup was as inevitable as it is now unpredictable. Willie has been the juggernaut of the tournament, appearing unbeatable in his previous three matchups. But the George Strait faithful can emerge at any time. On one side there’s the clean-cut cowboy in hat and Wranglers. On the other, the pot-smoking artist in bandana and pigtails. It’s sold-out stadium shows vs. the Fourth of July Picnic. Who is the most Texan? The answer to this one is entirely subjective.
ATHLETES AND ACTORS
Tom Landry vs. Earl Campbell
Another impossible to call matchup. One of Texas’ most beloved and respected football coaches against one of Texas’ most beloved and then-feared football players. The only thing that was certain was that this matchup was going to be about football.
POLITICS AND HISTORY
Ann Richards vs. Lady Bird Johnson
Two legendary Democrat women, two respected Texas icons, two beloved figures in Austin … and only one will make the Final Four. Your vote may depend on whether your interest runs more partisan (Richards) or skewed toward history (Mrs. Johnson).
Audie Murphy vs. Dan Rather
Texas’ most famous war hero vs. Texas’ most recognizable journalist. Murphy has been little challenged in his three wins so far, but Rather has won impressively as well. This category is likely to be a conservative vs. liberal fight.