E L Short

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E L Short
E L Short of Tahoka, TX.jpg
Short in undated photo
Texas State Representative for District 73 (Andrews, Dawson, Gaines, Lynn, Martin, and Terry counties)
In office
August 11, 1969 – January 1979
Preceded by Randy Pendleton
Succeeded by Jim Rudd
Texas State Senator for Andrews, Borden, Cochran, Crosby, Dawson, Ector, Gaines, Garza, Lubbock, Lynn, Martin, Terry, and Yoakum counties.
In office
Preceded by Kent Hance
Succeeded by John T. Montford
Personal details
Born (1925-10-02)October 2, 1925
Grassland, Texas, USA
Died June 24, 2015(2015-06-24) (aged 89)
Tahoka, Texas, USA
Resting place Texas State Cemetery
Nationality American
Political party Democratic-turned-Republican
Spouse(s) Ernestine Fortenberry Short (married 1947)

Vivian Bruns
Patti Kilpatrick
Robin Taylor

Leah Taylor
Residence Tahoka, Texas
Alma mater

Tahoka High School

Texas A&M University

Farmer; Rancher


E L Short (October 2, 1925 – June 24, 2015) was a farmer, rancher, and businessman from Tahoka in Lynn County, Texas, who was a Democratic member of both houses of the Texas State Legislature.[1]


Short (the E L doesn't stand for anything) was born in Grassland in Lynn County to Cleburne E. "Bert" Short (1897–1980), a farmer originally from Greenville, Texas, and the former Eva Lena McCord (1900–1989).[2] In 1943, Short graduated from Tahoka High School and attended Texas A&M University in College Station for a semester before he enlisted in the United States Navy in 1944.[1] He was stationed on the California coast and then dispatched to mainland China. After the war, he attended several more semesters at Texas A&M.[3]

In 1947, Short wed the former Ernestine "Dink" Fortenberry (born January 27, 1929), a native of Dawson County. The couple has four daughters, Vivian Bruns of Sierra Vista, Arizona, Patti Kilpatrick of Brownwood, Robin Taylor of Brownfield, Texas, and Leah Taylor of Tahoka. Except as in-laws, the husbands of Robin and Leah Taylor are otherwise unrelated. Short is United Methodist.[3] He died in Tahoka on June 24, 2015.[1]

State representative[edit]

Short was elected to the Texas House of Representatives from then District 73 in a special runoff election held on August 8, 1969, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation on June 30 of Democrat Randall George Pendleton, then of Andrews. Nine candidates had entered the first round of balloting on July 22.[4] Pendleton accepted appointment from Governor Preston E. Smith as the Director of State and Federal Relations in Washington, D.C.[5] Short held the House seat for ten years and for a time chaired the Inter-Government Affairs Committee. In 1975, he garnered statewide attention by focusing on the deadly hazards of hydrogen sulfide following an explosion of the gas in Denver City, located in Yoakum and Gaines counties in his district. Short endorsed an investigation by the Texas Railroad Commission and urged that residents be warned "by knocking on doors if necessary" of the imminent danger stemming from the gas. Often one dies from the second inhalation of the gas, and a warning itself may be too late.[6]

State senator[edit]

Nameplate of Senator Short at Garza County Historical Museum in Post, Texas

In 1978, Short was elected the Texas State Senate to succeed Kent Hance of Dimmitt, the seat of Castro County, who was instead elected to the United States House of Representatives to fill the seat vacated by the retiring George H. Mahon of Lubbock. Hance, then a Democrat, defeated the Republican choice, George W. Bush, who had beaten Jim Reese, the former mayor of Odessa, in a GOP runoff primary.[7]

Meanwhile, Short's House seat was won by the Democrat Jim Rudd of Brownfield in Terry County.

Short was appointed by Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby, the presiding officer of the state Senate, to serve on the Finance Committee. Short worked to increase funding for the nursing school at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He pushed for passage of bills to require cotton buyers to register with the state and to permit oversized modular trucks hauling cotton to be ginned to continue using the highways, as such operations are seasonal in nature. He was the vice chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and in the 1981 legislative session worked to thwart passage of seven land-use bills.[3]

Texas Monthly magazine named Short to the list of the "Ten Worst Legislators" in the 1981 session. Others negatively cited were Democrat Carlos Truan of Corpus Christi and Republican John N. Leedom of Dallas, the author of the "Texas Rainy Day Fund." Rated among the best in 1981 were future U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett of Austin, one of the Senate's more liberal members, Speaker Bill W. Clayton of Springlake in Lamb County, and Ray Farabee of Wichita Falls, all Democrats.[8] The magazine said that Short repeatedly told colleagues that he would support their pending legislation but failed to follow through. Texas Monthly quoted Short as having said to a colleague, "I told you I'd vote for that bill; I just didn't say when."[9]Texas Monthly said that Short was "without malice or guile" and might make a good alderman in Tahoka but was unsuited for legislative business.[9]

After a term in the Senate, Short was narrowly unseated in the 1982 Democratic primary by John T. Montford, the district attorney of Lubbock County. Short lost even though he had carried twelve of the fourteen counties in the district, losing only Lubbock and Borden, a small rural county. Montford then defeated Jim Reese, the unsuccessful Republican congressional candidate from both 1976 and 1978.[10] Short speculates that he would have defeated Montford had rains not suppressed the Ector County turnout, which was extremely low that year, and had not some conservatives in Odessa voted instead in the Republican primary, which then had a relatively small rate of participation. Though Short had worked successfully on the Senate Finance Committee to obtain funding for the Odessa branch of the Texas Tech Medical School, his effort did not yield the political dividend in the primary that he had contemplated.[3]

Short tombstone at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin

In the Montford-Reese general election contest, Short endorsed neither candidate.[3] Short, considered a conservative Democrat, later switched affiliation to the GOP but after his time in elective politics had passed.[11][12]

Former State Representative Delwin Jones of Lubbock, who served in the House with Short in the early 1970s, described his friend as an advocate for rural and agricultural issues: "This is back in the day when we had a strong West Texas voice in Austin and he was a good one."[1]

Former U.S. Representative Kent Hance said that “No one worked harder for his constituents than E L Short. He spent hours upon hours researching any issues a constituent in his district had."[1]

Former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Pete Laney of Hale Center, was to eulogize Short at the former lawmaker's funeral at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin on June 29.[1]

An exhibit with some of Short's political memorabilia is available at the Garza County Historical Museum in Post, Texas.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Adam D. Young (June 26, 2015). "Former South Plains state lawmaker Short remembered as strong voice for West Texas". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved June 28, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Statement of E L Short of Tahoka, Texas, November 18, December 14, 2010
  4. ^ "Members of the 60th Legislature: Randy Pendleton". lrl.state.tx.us. Retrieved December 17, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Randall Pendleton". cemetery.state.tx.us. Retrieved December 14, 2010. 
  6. ^ Howard Swindle, "The Deadly Smell of Success". Texas Monthly, June 1975. Retrieved December 14, 2010. 
  7. ^ State of Texas, 1978 election returns
  8. ^ "The Best and Worst Legislators since 1973". texasmonthly.com. Retrieved December 14, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Texas Monthly, July 1981, p. 112-113
  10. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Mayor Jim Reese of Odessa and the Republican Party in the Permian Basin", The West Texas Historical Association Year Book, Vol. LXXXVII (October 2011), p. 141
  11. ^ "RealVoters: Pinpoint Voters and Votes in Tahoka, TX". voterfactory.com. Retrieved December 14, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Tahoka, TX Political Contributions by Individuals". city-data.com. Retrieved December 14, 2010. 
Preceded by
Randy Pendleton
Texas State Representative for District 73 (Andrews, Dawson, Gaines, Lynn, Martin, and Terry counties)

E L Short

Succeeded by
Jim Rudd
Preceded by
Kent Hance
Texas State Senator for District 28 (Andrews, Borden, Cochran, Crosby, Dawson, Ector, Gaines, Garza, Lubbock, Lynn, Martin, Terry, and Yoakum counties)

E L Short

Succeeded by
John T. Montford