Ralph Hall

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Ralph Hall
Ralph Hall, official photo portrait, color.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 4th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 1981
Preceded by Ray Roberts
Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Bart Gordon
Succeeded by Lamar S. Smith
Member of the Texas Senate
from the 9th[1] district
In office
January 8, 1963 – January 9, 1973
Preceded by Ray Roberts
Succeeded by Ron Clower
Personal details
Born Ralph Moody Hall
(1923-05-03) May 3, 1923 (age 90)
Fate, Texas
Political party Republican (since 2004)
Democratic (1950–2004)
Spouse(s) Mary Ellen Hall (1944-2008, her death)
Children Hampton Hall
Brett Hall
Blakeley Hall
Residence Rockwall, Texas
Alma mater Southern Methodist University
Occupation attorney
Religion Methodist
Military service
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1942–1945
Rank Lieutenant
Battles/wars World War II

Ralph Moody Hall (born May 3, 1923) is a United States Representative from Texas's 4th congressional district. First elected in 1980, He is the dean of the Texas congressional delegation and the former chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, which he previously chaired from 2011 to 2013. He is also a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Originally a member of the Democratic Party for more than fifty years, in 2004 he switched to the Republican Party.

At 90, he is the oldest serving member of Congress, the oldest person to ever serve in the House of Representatives, the oldest person ever elected to a House term and the oldest House member ever to cast a vote. He is one of two World War II veterans currently serving in Congress, the other being Michigan Congressman John Dingell.[2]

On March 6, 2014, Hall was challenged in the Republican primary by five other fellow Republicans.[3][4] Hall received 45.42% of the vote, which was under 50%, the number of votes required to avoid a run-off election.[3][4] Hall will be facing former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe, who came in second and received 28.77% of the vote, in the May 2014 run-off.[3][4]

Early life, education, and law career[edit]

Hall is a lifelong resident of Rockwall County, northeast of Dallas. He was born in Fate, Texas. He graduated from Rockwall High School in 1941. He joined the U.S. Navy on December 10, 1942, serving as an aircraft carrier pilot from 1942 to 1945 during World War II, attaining the rank of lieutenant.

He attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth during 1943. After the war, he attended the University of Texas (1946–47), and received a law degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1951. He was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1951 and maintained a private law practice in Rockwall for many years.

Early political career - 1950–1973[edit]

County Judge[edit]

Hall was elected county judge of Rockwall County in November 1950. He held that position until 1962.

Texas Senate[edit]

In 1962, he was elected to the Texas State Senate after incumbent Ray Roberts won a special election to replace Sam Rayburn in Congress.

Committee Chairs[1]
  • Consumer Protection (1969–1972)
  • County, District, and Urban Affairs (1969–1972)
  • Historical and Recreational Sites (1969–1970)
  • Motion Picture Theater Industry (1969–1970)
  • Counties, Cities, and Towns (1967–1968)
  • Local and Uncontested Bills (1967–1968)
  • Transportation (1965–1966)

1972 Statewide Election[edit]

In 1972, he ran for Texas lieutenant governor and lost the Democratic primary, getting only 15% of the vote. Bill Hobby won the primary with a plurality of 33%, and won the general election.[5]

Business - 1973–1980[edit]

He was the president and CEO of Texas Aluminum Corp. and general counsel of Texas Extrusion Co., Inc. He was founding member and chairman of Lakeside National Bank of Rockwall, and was chairman of the directors of Lakeside News, Inc. He was a counsel for the aircraft parts maker Howmet Corporation from 1970 to 1974.

As of 2006, he was serving as the chairman, president or director of Crowley Holding Co., Bank of Crowley, Lakeside National Bank, Lakeside Bancshares Inc., North & East Trading Co., and Linrock Inc.

Later political career - 1980–present[edit]

Elections[edit]

In 1980, incumbent Democratic U.S. congressman Ray Roberts of Texas' 4th congressional district decided to retire. Hall won the Democratic primary with 57% of the vote.[6] In the general election, he defeated Republican business manager John Wright, with 52% of the vote, the closest race in the district's history and the lowest winning percentage in a general election in Hall's political career.[7] He is only the fourth person to represent the 4th District since its creation in 1903. The district's second congressman, Rayburn, the longtime Speaker of the House, represented the district for 48 years. He has never won re-election in a general election with less than 58% of the vote. He also never won re-election in a Democratic or Republican primary with less than 66% of the vote, except in 2010.

2004

In November 2004, he ran for his first full term as a Republican. He got heavy White House backing in the three-way GOP primary that year, defeating Mike Murphy and Mike Moshe. Republican leadership even tried to persuade at least one Republican candidate to get out of the race, which the candidate captured on tape. He won the primary with 78% of the vote, and the general election with 67% of the vote defeating Democratic candidate Jim Nickerson[8] and Libertarian Kevin D. Anderson.

2006

He defeated Democratic candidate Glenn Melancon and Libertarian candidate Kurt Helm in the 2006 general election with 67% of the vote.

2008

In the general election, he again faced Democratic nominee Glenn Melancon and was re-elected with 69% of the vote.

2010

In the Republican primary, he won the nomination with just 57% of the vote, his worst performance in a primary election since his first election in 1980. It was a six candidate race, with his closest opponent, Steve Clark, winning 30% of the vote.[9] In the general election, he won re-election with 73% of the vote against Democratic candidate VaLinda Hathcox and two other candidates.

2012

He won the Republican primary with 58% of the vote. Steve Clark came second again with 21% and Lou Gigliotti came third with 21%.[10] He won over Democratic candidate VaLinda Hathcox in the general election for the second year in a row, this time by 73% to 24%.

2014

Hall announced his bid for an eighteenth consecutive term in the U.S. House.[11]On December 20, 2013, Hall said that his current re-election bid would be his final one.[12]

In the Republican primary on March 4, Hall led a six-candidate field with 29,815 votes (45.4 percent). Because he did not obtain a majority of the ballots cast, Hall now enters a May 27, 2014 runoff election with the runner-up, John Lee Ratcliffe (born c. 1965) of Dallas, who polled 18,891 votes (28.8 percent). Lou Gigliotti finished third with 10,592 votes (16.1 percent). Gigliotti and the three other eliminated contenders for the seat held the remaining 24 percent of the votes cast.[13]

Tenure[edit]

"an old-time Conservative Democrat"

Hall described himself as "an old-time conservative Democrat." For many years, he was one of the most conservative Democratic congressmen. He was an early supporter of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget and also favored legislation requiring a super-majority on any tax increases. He frequently clashed with the Clinton Administration, and voted for three of the four articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton. He endorsed George W. Bush for President in 2000, becoming one of the few Democratic politicians to do so. The two had been friends for many years.

While he was very conservative, even by Texas Democratic standards, his conservatism can be attributed to the demographics of the 4th District. It had once been reliably Democratic, but became increasingly friendly to Republicans as Dallas' suburban growth spilled into the western portion of the district. The 4th has not supported the Democratic nominee for president since 1964. Despite this district's increasingly Republican tilt, Hall won 10 more terms as a member of the Democratic Party, with an average of 60 percent of the vote. In 1994, for instance, he was re-elected by a 19-point margin, even as other conservative Democratic congressmen lost their seats. By the 1990s, he was the only elected Democratic official above the county level in much of the district. It was taken for granted that he would be succeeded by a Republican once he retired.

Like many in the Democratic Party, he voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement. In 1999, he was one of six Democratic congressmen who supported a Republican tax cut plan. He has been an original co-sponsor of bills to repeal the estate tax and the marriage tax penalty.

In late 2002, he voted for the resolution allowing the use of force in Iraq. In March 2003, he voted for a budget that included Bush's 10-year, $726 billion tax cut plan. The plan passed the House 215-212.

2004 Party Switch

Hall was frequently rumored as a candidate to switch parties, especially after the Republicans took control of the House in 1995. Even as Democratic Party members with far less conservative voting records, such as Greg Laughlin, Jimmy Hayes, Billy Tauzin and Nathan Deal all switched parties, he insisted that he would remain with the Democratic Party as long as it did not hurt his constituents. He said that he had an obligation to "pull my party back toward the middle." He was one of the co-founders of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate and conservative Democratic congressmen.

In 2003, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay engineered a controversial mid-decade redistricting. He was the only white Democratic congressman not targeted by the remap. However, his district was shifted slightly to the north. Tyler, the heart of the 4th for a century, was shifted to the neighboring 1st District. It did, however, pick up most of Collin County, which had been part of the district until the 1980s round of redistricting.

In January 2004, on the final day for candidates to file to get their names on the ballot for the March 9, 2004 primary, Hall switched parties and became a Republican. He said that Republicans refused to put money for his district into a spending bill, and when he asked why, "the only reason I was given was that I was a Democrat." He also cited concerns with his Democratic criticism of President Bush; he hadn't attended Democratic caucus meetings for some time due to the criticism leveled at Bush, his longtime friend. He told the press, "The country is at war. When the country is at war you need to support the president. Some of my fellow congressmen have not been doing that."[14]

After the switch, the Republican Party allowed him to keep his seniority. He became chairman of the House Energy Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality. He also joined the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservative House Republicans.

Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)

The Northern Mariana Islands are a U.S. commonwealth in the Pacific with a large garment industry. Billing records of Preston Gates Ellis and Rouvelas Meeds, an international law firm employed by the CNMI, the government of the islands, show numerous contacts between the law firm and Hall's office. He said his dealings with the law firm were with Lloyd Meeds, a partner with the firm, which at the time listed 36 attorneys on staff, not with Jack Abramoff, the firm's representative for the CNMI contract. In 2006, he said of the Northern Marianas, "They were good allies, and I believed their government should handle their affairs and not have us impose labor laws on them."[15][16]

In December 1996, Hall and E.K. Slaughter, a friend,[17] and their wives visited the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The trip was arranged by the National Security Caucus Foundation (NSCF), which told him that the trip would be paid for by that group.[15] Greg Hilton, the director of the now-defunct NCSF, had no funding for such trips; he only arranged them with CNMI officials. Hilton said he was led to believe by officials of Preston Gates that the CNMI would pay the expenses and be reimbursed by the private sector. In fact, Preston Gates paid the expenses for such trips and billed the CNMI for reimbursement.[18] For the trip of Hall, Slaughter and their wives, Abramoff billed the CNMI $12,800.[19]

In September 1997, Democratic Representative Neil Abercrombie placed remarks in the Congressional Record describing a teenager described as "Katrina", whose story had been widely publicized, stating that an "employer had lured her to the CNMI under false pretenses" and that "she was also forced into service as a prostitute."[20]

Abramoff's staff contacted Hall's office fifteen times in the two months following Abercrombie's remarks.[21][22] In November 1997, he entered into the Congressional Record a statement saying that upon reviewing those remarks, he had "felt that Congressman Abercrombie had relied on an erroneous and misleading article published by the Reader's Digest some months ago." The article, according to Hall, said that the teenager "was forced to perform lewd sex acts with customers before a video camera." He quoted a report by the acting attorney general of the CNMI in response: "in fact...she wanted to do nude dancing...to support her family."[23] The remarks by Abercrombie did not cite that source, and the Reader’s Digest June 1997 story by Henry Hurt, "Shame on American Soil," does not refer to a child named Katrina.[24]

In his remarks, he also said "I intend to seek further information on matters as reported by the Reader's Digest author — and I would hope that a fair minded person like Congressman Abercrombie would accompany me early next year if, and when, we can both work a visit into our schedule — a visit that would not involve the expenditure of any American tax dollars.[23]

Asked in 2006 how the 1996 trip benefited the Texas Fourth Congressional District he represents, he said, "I think it benefits my constituents if you do anything that benefits the peace through strength people, when you’re going out to bring information to them to help win the Cold War. That’s a benefit to them, to their strategic interests." The last gasps of the Cold War ended in 1991.[24]

He also said "the whole thing was about ... them setting their own minimum wage. They had told me they would waive their foreign aid in return for setting their own minimum wage." His comments in the Congressional Record in 1997 do not mention a minimum wage[24] and the CNMI receives no foreign aid.[1]

Views on climate change

On December 1, 2011, Hall gave an interview to National Journal in which he expressed disbelief in anthropogenic climate change. He accused climate scientists of concocting the evidence for anthropogenic climate change in order to receive federal research grants, citing the Climategate controversy and calling investigations which had largely exonerated them "straw-man reviews". He stated that "I'm really more fearful of freezing. And I don't have any science to prove that. But we have a lot of science that tells us they're not basing it on real scientific facts." He responded to allegations that Republicans could be called anti-science in light of these views by saying "I'm not anti-science, I'm pro-science. But we ought to have some believable science.... We have to be more careful what outlays we make for something that hasn't been proved."[25]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Hall married the former Mary Ellen Murphy on November 14, 1944, while he was serving in the navy in Pensacola, Florida. They had three sons, Hampton, Brett, and Blakeley, and (as of 2013) have five grandchildren. She died on August 27, 2008.[26]

In January 2004, regarding his switch of party, Hall said "I talked with some of my family. Some agreed, some did not. My wife didn't agree. She'd rather I quit than switch parties."[14]

As a young man, Hall pumped gas for a man and woman whom he later identified as the infamous gangsters Bonnie and Clyde.[27]

Electoral history[edit]

Texas's 4th congressional district:

Year Democratic Republican Libertarian Other
Candidate Votes  % Candidate Votes  % Candidate Votes  % Candidate Votes  %
1980 √ Ralph Hall 102,787 52% John Wright 93,915 48% No nominee
1982 √ Ralph Hall 94,134 74% Pete Collumb 32,221 25% Bruce Iiams 1,141 1%
1984 √ Ralph Hall 120,749 58% Thomas Blow 87,553 42% No nominee (Assorted) 39 0%
1986 √ Ralph Hall 97,540 72% Thomas Blow 38,578 28% No nominee
1988 √ Ralph Hall 139,379 66% Randy Sutton 67,337 32% Melanie Dunn 3,152 2%
1990 √ Ralph Hall 108,300 100% No nominee No nominee Tim McChord (Write-in) 394 0%
1992 √ Ralph Hall 128,008 58% David Bridges 83,875 38% Steven Rothacker 8,450 4%
1994 √ Ralph Hall 99,303 59% David Bridges 67,267 40% Steven Rothacker 2,377 1%
1996 √ Ralph Hall 132,126 64% Jerry Hall 71,065 34% Steven Rothacker 3,172 2% Enos Denham (Natural Law Party) 814 0%
1998 √ Ralph Hall 82,989 58% Jim Lohmeyer 58,954 41% Jim Simon 2,137 1%
2000 √ Ralph Hall 145,887 60% Jon Newton 91,574 38% Joe Turner 4,417 2%
2002 √ Ralph Hall 97,304 58% John Graves 67,939 40% Barbara Robinson 3,042 2%
2004 Jim Nickerson 81,585 30% √ Ralph Hall 182,866 68% Kevin Anderson 3,491 1%
2006 Glenn Melancon 55,278 33% √ Ralph Hall 106,495 64% Kurt Helm 3,496 2%
2008 Glenn Melancon 88,067 29% √ Ralph Hall 206,906 69% Fred Annett 5,771 2%
2010 VaLinda Hathcox 40,975 22% √ Ralph Hall 136,338 73% Jim Prindle 4,729 3% Shane Shepard (Independent) 4,244 2%
2012 VaLinda Hathcox 60,214 24% √ Ralph Hall 182,679 73% Thomas Griffing 7,262 3%

Source: "Office of the House Clerk – Electoral Statistics". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. 

Source: "Election Results". Federal Election Commission. 

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Legislative Reference Library | Legislators and Leaders | Member profile". Lrl.state.tx.us. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ Good, Chris (June 7, 2013). "Frank Lautenberg and Senate Link to WW II Laid to Rest". ABC News. Retrieved June 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Hooks, Christopher. Texas Congressman Ralph Hall, 34 Year Incumbent, Hits a Rough Patch, Texas Observer, March 12, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Office of the Secretary of State, 2014 Republican Party Primary Election, Election Night Returns, March 6, 2014
  5. ^ "TX Lt. Governor - D Primary Race - May 06, 1972". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  6. ^ "TX District 4 - D Primary Race - May 03, 1980". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  7. ^ "TX District 4 Race - Nov 04, 1980". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Jim Nickerson (D)" Washingtonpost.com, 2004
  9. ^ "TX District 4 - R Primary Race - Mar 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  10. ^ "TX District 04 - R Primary Race - May 29, 2012". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  11. ^ Sullivan, Alison (May 8, 2013). "90-year-old Rep. Ralph Hall seeks another term to ‘help elect the next Republican president’". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  12. ^ Anonymous. "Hall announces final re-election bid » Local News » Rockwall Herald-Banner (Texas)". Rockwall Herald-Banner. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Republican primary election returns, March 4, 2014". enr.sos.state.tx.us. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b John Mercurio, "Texas Rep. Hall switches to GOP", CNN.com, January 3, 2004
  15. ^ a b Mary Madewell, "Democrat: Hall had ties to jailed lobbyist", The Paris News (Texas), October 1, 2006
  16. ^ Letter from Preston Gates Ellis to CNMI, May 6, 1997[dead link]
  17. ^ Ralph Hall, financial disclosure statement for calendar year 1997, showing loan of between $50,000 and $100,000 by Hall to E.K. Slaughter, opensecrets.org, accessed September 27, 2006
  18. ^ "Dollar Trail From D.C. To Islands", Associated Press, May 3, 2005
  19. ^ Letter from Preston Gates Ellis to CNMI, May 6, 1997
  20. ^ Statement by Neil Abercrombie, September 26, 1997, Congressional Record
  21. ^ Invoice, Preston Gates Ellis, for work on 10/17/97 including "telephone conversation with G[race] Warren (Hall) regarding Katrina insert"
  22. ^ Paul Kiel, "For Abramoff, Lawmaker Slandered Teen Sex Slave", TPMMuckracker.com, September 25, 2006
  23. ^ a b Statement by Ralph Hall, November 13, 1997, Congressional Record
  24. ^ a b c Kathy Williams, 10. "Accusations Denied" Sherman Herald-Democrat, October 19, 2006
  25. ^ Mervis, Jeffrey (December 14, 2011). "Ralph Hall Speaks Out on Climate Change". ScienceInsider. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  26. ^ Joe Simnacher, "Mary Ellen Murphy Hall, wife of U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, dies", Dallas Morning News, August 27, 2008
  27. ^ "Tribute to Rep. Ralph Hall". C-Span, House of Representatives. November 27, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Texas Senate
Preceded by
Ray Roberts
Texas State Senator
from District 9 (Rockwall)

1963–1973
Succeeded by
Ron Clower
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ray Roberts
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 4th congressional district

1981–Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Bart Gordon
Tennessee
Chairman of House Science Committee
2011–2013
Succeeded by
Lamar S. Smith
Texas
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Tom Petri
R-Wisconsin
United States Representatives by seniority
10th
Succeeded by
Hal Rogers
R-Kentucky