George H. Mahon

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George H. Mahon
George H. Mahon.jpg
41st Dean of the United States House of Representatives
In office
March 7, 1976 – January 3, 1979
Preceded by Wright Patman
Succeeded by Jamie L. Whitten
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 19th district
In office
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1979
Preceded by Joseph Weldon Bailey, Jr.
Succeeded by Kent Hance
Personal details
Born (1900-09-22)September 22, 1900
Mahon Community
Claiborne Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died November 19, 1985(1985-11-19) (aged 85)
San Angelo
Tom Green County, Texas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Helen Stephenson Mahon (ca. 1924-1985, his death)
Children One daughter
Residence Colorado City, Texas

Lubbock, Texas
Washington, D.C.

Alma mater Loraine High School (Loraine, Texas)

Hardin-Simmons University
University of Texas Law School

George Herman Mahon (September 22, 1900 - November 19, 1985) was a Texas politician who served twenty-two consecutive terms (1935–1979) as a member of the United States House of Representatives from the Lubbock-based 19th congressional district.

His legacies include the development of federal farm programs, the establishment of the former Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock and Webb Air Force Base in Big Spring, leadership in the development of Interstate 27, a short connection between Amarillo and Lubbock, and disaster relief during droughts and tornadoes common to West Texas.

Background[edit]

Mahon was born to John Kirkpatrick Mahon and the former Lola Willis in the Mahon community near Haynesville in Claiborne Parish in northern Louisiana near the Arkansas state line. In 1908, Mahon's family moved to Loraine in Mitchell County, Texas, where young George graduated from Loraine High School. In 1924, he received his bachelor's degree from Baptist-affiliated Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. While in college he married the former Helen Stephenson, and they had one daughter. In 1925, Mahon graduated from the University of Texas Law School in Austin.

Statue of Mahon on grounds of Mitchell County Courthouse in Colorado City, Texas.

Mahon joined a friend, Charlie Thompson, in the opening of a law firm in Colorado City. He was elected county attorney for Mitchell County, Texas in 1926. Thereafter, Governor Dan Moody named Mahon district attorney of the thirty-second judicial district of Texas, a position which he held from 1927 to 1933, having been elected once after the initial gubernatorial appointment.[1]

The federal building in downtown Lubbock is named for Mahon.
The George and Helen Mahon Library in downtown Lubbock
George Mahon Park in Lubbock

Congressional tenure[edit]

The Democrat Mahon was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1934, when he defeated Clark Millican of Lubbock in the runoff election for the seat. Lubbock residents, including Charles A. Guy, the editor of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal urged that the seat go to a Lubbock resident – Millican – because Lubbock is the largest city in the district. Rural areas, however, coalesced behind Mahon. Once in office, Mahon cemented his hold on Lubbock as well as the whole district and rarely had opposition in his reelection campaigns. In its 2008 centennial, the Avalanche-Journal declared Mahon the most influential figure in Lubbock's 20th century history.[1]

Mahon was a delegate to each Democratic National Convention from 1936 to 1964, having participating in the nomination of all party standard-bearers from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Lyndon B. Johnson. He was the chairman of the Appropriations Committee from 1964 until his retirement from the House in 1979. Known for his personal frugality, Mahon often clashed with presidents of both parties who he determined wanted to spend more money than the treasury could afford.[1] Early in his Congressional tenure, Mahon served on the committee that developed the Manhattan Project.

On three occasions, 1962, 1964, and 1976, Mahon faced Republican opponents Dennis Taylor, Joe B. Phillips (1925-2012), a Realtor from Lubbock and later the administrator of the Smithlawn Church of Christ Maternity Home and Adoption Agency,[2] and then Jim Reese, a former mayor of Odessa, respectively. Mahon topped Taylor, 46,925 (67.1 percent) to 23,022 (32.9 percent) in the same election in which the Republican Ed Foreman of Odessa unseated the Democrat J.T. Rutherford in an adjacent West Texas congressional district. Mahon prevailed in 1964, 87,555 (77.6 percent) to Phillips's 25,243 (22.4 percent).[3]

In his last race, Mahon defeated Reese, 87,908 (54.6 percent) to 72,991 (45.4 percent), with victory secured by his large margin in Lubbock County.[4] Mahon decided not to run again in 1978, when Reese lost the Republican runoff primary for the seat to George W. Bush, who was then defeated in the general election by Democrat Kent Hance, Mahon's House successor, who subsequently switched parties.

After his years in the House, Mahon stayed in Washington to work with the Smithsonian Institution, of which he was a regent from 1964 to 1978.

U.S. Representative Gerald R. Ford, Jr., of Michigan, MSFC director Wernher von Braun, Representative George H. Mahon, and NASA Administrator James E. Webb, visit the Marshall Space Flight Center on April 28, 1964, for a briefing on the Saturn program.

Mahon died in San Angelo of complications from knee surgery. He is interred at the Loraine City Cemetery in Loraine in Mitchell County alongside Mrs. Mahon, who died in 1987.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Lubbock had a strong voice in Washington: George H. Mahon". Lubbockcentennial.com. Retrieved May 2, 2009. L
  2. ^ "Joe B. Phillips obituary". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved January 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, Vol. 2, U.S. House, 6th ed. (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 2010), p. 1270
  4. ^ Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, p. 1305

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Joseph W. Bailey, Jr.
Representative from the 19th Congressional District of Texas
1935–1979
Succeeded by
Kent Hance
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Wright Patman
Dean of the House
1976–1979
Succeeded by
Jamie L. Whitten