|Member of the Texas Senate
from the 15th district
|Preceded by||Jack C. Ogg|
August 13, 1949 |
|Alma mater||University of Houston|
John Harris Whitmire (born August 13, 1949) is the longest-serving of current members of the Texas State Senate representing District 15, which includes much of northern Houston, since 1983. Previously he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1973 through 1982. He also served as the Acting Governor of Texas in 1993 as part of the Governor for A Day tradition.
In 2003, Whitmire was one of the "Texas Eleven", a group of Democrats who fled the state for New Mexico in 2003 in a quorum-busting effort aimed at preventing the passage of controversial redistricting legislation that would have benefited Texas Republicans.
National House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a powerful figure in Texas politics, advocated arresting Whitmire, along with the other members of the Texas 11, telling reporters that he supported using Federal Bureau of Investigation agents or U.S. marshals to arrest the runaway Democrats and bring them back to Austin, asserting that redistricting is a federal matter of federal concern.
It was Whitmire who first broke ranks and headed back home to Austin. His stated reason for doing so was that he wished to preserve consensus in the state Senate instead of allowing no-holds-barred partisan civil war to continue. Others have speculated about a possible "deal" between Republicans and Whitmire.[who?]
Besides the New Mexico controversy, he voiced his opposition to the City of Houston's Safe Clear program which unanimously passed by Houston Mayor Bill White. Whitmire introduced legislation to disband Safe Clear where it was deemed a revenue generator to which two Houston City Councilmembers decried its policy. The proposed legislation was later withdrawn after a private meeting in Austin where Mayor Bill White and Whitmire negotiated.
In 2008 Whitmire received threatening calls from death row inmate Richard Tabler who had a smuggled cell phone in his death row cell.
Cloak Room incident 
In 2007 a bartender at a bar called the Cloak Room, located next to the Texas State Capitol and frequented by politicians and lobbyists, alleged that she was fired in retaliation for having refused to serve Whitmire, whom she says appeared intoxicated. Whitmire is alleged to have threatened to have the bartender fired, to prevent the police from coming to the scene—and other similar abuses of power. Shortly after the incident, the bartender was fired. She sued the manager and owner of the bar. Unbeknownst to the bar manager the employee reportedly tape-recorded the conversation. On the audio tape, which has not been released publicly, the bar manager stated that employees are to give state senators anything that they want, that as long as senators came to the bar the bar would not be investigated by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and that Senator Whitmire could "kill them."
End to special last meals 
Whitmire was outraged when convicted murderer Lawrence Russell Brewer ordered a large last meal which he did not eat prior to his September 21, 2011, execution. Whitmire said that this was Brewer's attempt to "make a mockery out of the process." The senator contacted the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and asked the agency to end the practice of last meals or he would get the State Legislature to pass a bill doing so. The agency replied that last meal requests were accommodated "within reason" from food available in the prison kitchen, but it agreed to end the practice immediately at Whitmire's insistence.
Election history 
Election history of District 15 from 1992.
Most recent election 
|Texas general election, 2002: Senate District 15|
|Republican||Michael P. Wolfe||41,003||39.63||+4.69|
Previous elections 
|Texas general election, 2000: Senate District 15|
|Republican||Warren A. Lawless||51,465||34.94||-3.01|
|Texas general election, 1996: Senate District 15|
|Texas general election, 1994: Senate District 15|
|Texas general election, 1992: Senate District 15|
|Republican||Thomas V. Kelly||25,660||25.67|
|Democratic Party Primary Runoff Election, 1992: Senate District 15|
|Roman O. Martinez||15,390||47.61|
|Democratic Party Primary Election, 1992: Senate District 15|
|✓||Roman O. Martinez||15,575||48.87|
- Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Records (1949-08-13). "Birth Certificate for John Harris Whitmire" (Third party index of birth records for Hill County). Rootsweb.com. Retrieved 2006-12-19.[dead link]
- Burka, Paul; and Patricia Kilday Hart (2005-07). "The Best and Worst Legislators of 2005" (subscription required). Texas Monthly. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- Article (link now defunct) in Austin American-Statesman, June 21, 2007.
- "Hearings begin in bar dispute", by Amanda DeBard, The Daily Texan, September 21, 2007.
- Fernandez, Manny (September 22, 2011). "Texas Death Row Kitchen Cooks Its Last ‘Last Meal’". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
- Uncontested primary elections are not shown.
- "2002 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- "2000 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- "1996 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- "1994 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- "1992 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- "1992 Democratic Party Primary Runoff Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- "1992 Democratic Party Primary Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- Senate of Texas - Senator John Whitmire official TX Senate website
- Project Vote Smart - Senator John Whitmire (TX) profile
- Follow the Money - John Whitmire
|Texas House of Representatives|
William S. “Bill” Heatley
|Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 82 (Houston)
Nolan J. Robnett
Jack C. Ogg
|Texas State Senator
from District 15 (Houston)
1983 – present