Pete Laney

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James E. "Pete" Laney
Speaker of Texas House of Representatives
In office
Preceded by Gibson D. "Gib" Lewis
Succeeded by Thomas R. "Tom" Craddick
Personal details
Born (1943-03-20) March 20, 1943 (age 71)
Plainview, Texas
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Nelda McQuien Laney
Residence Hale Center, Texas
Alma mater Texas Tech University
Occupation farmer, businessman
Religion Church of Christ

James E. "Pete" Laney (born March 20, 1943) is a U.S. Democratic Party politician from West Texas. He was a member of the Texas House of Representatives for 34 years from Hale Center (near Plainview). Laney served as Speaker for ten years from 1993 to 2003, a record matching that set by his predecessor, fellow Democrat Gibson D. "Gib" Lewis of Fort Worth, who served as speaker from 1983 to 1993.

During his tenure, Laney was widely praised for demonstrating principle, integrity, and character in his leadership of the House. He was cited by Republican Governor George W. Bush, during the 2000 Presidential campaign, as a model of legislative bipartisan co-operation. As Speaker, Laney "foster[ed] a bipartisan atmosphere for legislators to work together with mutual respect and place public needs ahead of personal interests and partisan politics."[1]

Lewis triggered a speaker's race in 1991 when he announced, amidst allegations of accepting an illegal gift from a law firm, that he would not seek re-election as speaker in 1993. Laney announced in November 1992 that he had secured the pledges of more than 80 of his colleagues to elect him Speaker.[2] In his first term as Speaker, Laney "ran the fairest, cleanest, most open, most democratic House in memory." He was named by Texas Monthly magazine as one of the "Top Ten" legislators of the Seventy-third Texas Legislature.[3]

Laney's tenure as Speaker ended after the 2002 elections, when the GOP gained a majority in the Texas House for the first time since Reconstruction, and Thomas R. "Tom" Craddick, Sr. (also born 1943), of Midland, was elected the first Republican Speaker since 1871. Craddick served in the presiding post from 2003-2009. When Craddick undertook an unprecedented mid-decade congressional redistricting, Laney joined fellow Democrats who traveled to Ardmore, Oklahoma, to block consideration of the Republican's bill by denying the House a quorum.

In December 2005, Laney announced he would not seek re-election to the House in which he had served continuously since 1973. Laney, no longer Speaker, was re-elected in 2004 by defeating his Republican opponent with almost 59 percent of the vote in a district won by George W. Bush with 76 percent of the vote. In 2006, Democrats retained Laney's seat in a hard-fought general election won by former Crosby County Judge Joseph P. Heflin, who defeated James L. "Jim" Landtroop (born 1968) of Plainview. Landtroop had also opposed Laney in 2004. From 2007-2011, the district was the only Panhandle-area legislative seat held by a Democrat. Then Landtroop staged a comeback in 2010 and unseated Heflin.

Laney was born in Plainview to Wilber G. Laney (1918–2005) and the former Frances L. Wilson (1921–2000). He married the former Nelda Kay McQuien (also born 1943). Their children are KaLyn Laney, James Kay (Jamey) Laney Phillips, and J Pete Laney.[4]


  1. ^ Tex. Legis. Council Research Div., Presiding Officers of the Texas Legislature: 1846-2002 7 (Texas Legis. Council 2002).
  2. ^ "Laney Says He's Got Speaker Votes", Houston Chronicle, November 10, 1992.
  3. ^ Paul Burka and Patricia Kilday Hart, [ "The Best and Worst Legislators 1993", Texas Monthly, July 1993.
  4. ^ Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997.
Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
76-1: Delwin Jones
76-2: Elmer Tarbox
76-3: R. B. McAlister
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 76 (Hale Center)

Succeeded by
Tom Craddick
Preceded by
Al Edwards
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 85 (Hale Center)

Succeeded by
Joseph Paul "Joe" Heflin
Political offices
Preceded by
Gib Lewis
Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Tom Craddick