John T. Smithee
|John True Smithee|
|Texas State Representative from District 86 (Dallam, Hartley, Oldham, Deaf Smith, Potter, and Randall counties)|
|Preceded by||Robert Dwight "Bob" Simpson|
September 7, 1951 |
|Spouse(s)||Becky Lynn Smithee|
|Alma mater||West Texas A&M University
Although Smithee succeeded a Democrat, Robert Dwight "Bob" Simpson (born 1943), who had served for a decade, District 86 is now considered the most Republican state House jurisdiction in the entire state. Voters there cast more than 83 percent of their ballots for Mitt Romney in his 2012 race against the Democrat U.S. President Barack H. Obama.
District 86 includes rural Dallam, Hartley, Oldham, and Deaf Smith counties. Smithee's district office is in Amarillo. He represents that part of Amarillo, some 40 percent of the population, located to the south of the central city within Randall County. The remainder of Amarillo, the seat of Potter County, is represented by Smithee's Republican colleague, Four Price, a lawyer from Amarillo.
Smithee is chairman of the House Insurance Committee and serves on the Higher Education Committee.
Smithee was first elected to the Texas House in 1984, when he was thirty-three. He was reelected to his twelfth two-year term in 2006 with 86.5 percent of the vote over a Libertarian Party opponent. Democrats rarely contest the district any more.
He received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from West Texas A&M University (then West Texas State University) in Canyon, the seat of Randall County, and his Juris Doctor from Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He is married to Becky Lynn Smithee (born January 7, 1956).
2009 Race For Texas House Speaker
On December 29, 2008, Smithee announced, via the online political newsletter, Quorum Report, that he had received "more than twenty calls" from fellow Texas House members and that he would announce within forty-eight hours whether or not he would seek unseat incumbent Republican Texas Speaker Tom Craddick of Midland. Smithee did not enter the race, won instead by another Republican, Joe Straus of San Antonio, who upset the incumbent Tom Craddick of Midland.
Opposition to state lottery
Smithee is a long-term opponent of the Texas Lottery Commission; he voted against the lottery when it was submitted to voters for approval in 1991. In 2013, he offered an amendment that would have abolished the commission by 2017. The amendment received ninety-five votes, five short of the two thirds required. The vote gave renewed hope to opponents that the lottery may yet be abolished in the future. Smithee said his bill was a compromise because of the degree of opposition that has emerged against the lottery, which funds about $1.2 billion annually to the state. The House, however, renewed the lottery for twelve years, but the issue is expected to arise again in future sessions. According to Smithee, there is "some discontent on how the lottery has operated, that there are too many persons that have profited from the lottery and not the children of Texas … only about 25 cents of each dollar go to the schoolchildren."
Another bid for Speaker?
In 2013, speculation mounted that Smithee will in January 2015 challenge the reelection of Speaker Joe Straus, who is expected to seek a fourth term as the presiding House officer. Smithee came to Tyler to headline a fundraiser for colleague Matt Schaefer. Joining Smithee were Rick Miller of Sugar Land, Drew Springer, Jr. of Muenster, David Simpson of Longview, and two members who are running against each other for the Texas State Senate, Steve Toth and Brandon Creighton, both of Montgomery County in suburban Houston. Most of the lawmakers in attendance are associated with the Tea Party movement.
- "Enrique Rangel, "Democrats not jumping at chance to run for West Texas, statewide office: The Wendy Davis factor"". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
- "Will Smithee be 13th warrior in Speaker's race?", capitolannex.com, December 29, 2008
- "Enrique Rangel, "Texas Lottery Commission reauthorized, but its future uncertain", April 24, 2013". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
- "Paul Burka, "A Brewing Speaker’s Race?", August 20, 2013". Texas Monthly. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
Robert Dwight "Bob" Simpson
|Texas State Representative from District 86 (Dallam, Deaf Smith, Hartley, Oldham, Potter, and Randall counties)
John True Smithee