James M. Collins

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James M. Collins
James M. Collins.jpg
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 3rd district
In office
August 24, 1968 – January 3, 1983
Preceded byJoe R. Pool
Succeeded bySteve Bartlett
Personal details
James Mitchell Collins

(1916-04-29)April 29, 1916
Hallsville, Texas, U.S.
DiedJuly 21, 1989(1989-07-21) (aged 73)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
ChildrenNancy Miles Collins Fisher

Michael J. Collins

Dorothy C. Weaver
Residence(s)Dallas, Texas
Alma materWoodrow Wilson High School

Southern Methodist University

Harvard Business School
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
UnitThird Army
Battles/warsWorld War II

James Mitchell Collins (April 29, 1916 – July 21, 1989) was an American businessman and a Republican who represented the Third Congressional District of Texas from 1968-1983. The district was based at the time around Irving in Dallas County.


Collins was born in Hallsville in Harrison County in East Texas. His father, Carr Collins Sr., had founded the Fidelity Union Life Insurance Company; his sister was Ruth Sharp Altshuler.[1] He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas. In 1989, Collins was inducted into the Woodrow Wilson High School Hall of Fame the same year it was created in celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the institution. Collins graduated thereafter from Southern Methodist University[2] in University Park (a part of the Park Cities enclave that is surrounded by Dallas) and from Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Collins then entered the United States Army, having served as a lieutenant in the Third Army of General George S. Patton, Jr., during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

In 1966, Collins ran for the U.S. House in the 3rd District, a newly created district in north Dallas. He lost to incumbent Democrat Joe R. Pool in a close race, taking 46 percent of the vote to Pool's 53 percent. Pool died in July 1968, and Collins won the ensuing special election, defeating Pool's widow, Elizabeth, with over 60 percent of the vote. His victory was part of a strong trend toward the GOP in north Dallas; this district has been in Republican hands without interruption since then. He won a full term in the general election that fall, he received 81,696 votes (59.4 percent) to 55,939 (40.6 percent) for Democrat Robert H. Hughes. He would never face another contest nearly that close, never dropping below 64 percent of the vote and even running unopposed in 1978.

Barbara Staff, later one of the three co-chairmen in Texas for the Ronald W. Reagan challenge to U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, Jr. in the 1976 Republican presidential primary, worked in Collins' campaigns and in the congressional office for a time. As the president of the Council of Republican Women's Clubs of Dallas County, she had launched a successful membership program known as "I Believe" and was known in particular for her conservative political views and organizational skills.[3]

Opposing Lloyd Bentsen, 1982[edit]

At sixty-six in 1982, Collins relinquished his House seat to challenge the entrenched Texas Democratic U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, of Houston, at sixty-one a political icon in Texas. The conservative Collins won the Republican primary for senator by defeating an even more conservative rival, Walter Mengden, also of Houston. As a state senator, Mengden had been an advocate of instituting the initiative and referendum in Texas, two reforms never implemented. Collins polled 152,469 (58 percent) in the primary to Mengden's 91,780 (34.9 percent). A third contender received 7.1 percent of the vote.

Collins subsequently lost the general election by a large margin. Bentsen polled 1,818,223 (58.6 percent) to Collins' 1,256,759 (40.5 percent). The 1982 elections ended the political careers of both Mengden and Collins, but they represented a triumph for Lloyd Bentsen, who led his party to victory in all statewide races that year, including judgeships, the last year thus far that Democrats have swept all statewide races, including judgeships, in Texas.

Personal life[edit]

Collins' former son-in-law, Richard W. Fisher of Dallas, who married Collins's daughter, Nancy Miles Collins, worked for the Independent presidential campaign of H. Ross Perot in 1992. In 1994, five years after Collins' death, Fisher ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic nominee against freshman Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who emerged as Bentsen's long-time Senate successor. Collins' grandson, Miles Fisher, is an actor, musician, and entrepreneur.

Collins was succeeded in Congress by fellow Republican Steve Bartlett, who had defeated future U.S. Senator Hutchison in the GOP primary in 1982. Bartlett left Congress in 1991, when he was elected mayor of Dallas. Bartlett was succeeded by Sam Johnson, a popular former POW from the Vietnam War.

Collins is interred at Restland Memorial Park in Dallas. His grave marker reads "God, Family, and Country".[4]


  1. ^ "Special Speakers Scheduled for Republican Woman's Club". Longview News-Journal. 1982-10-03. p. 123. Retrieved 2017-12-30 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ "Republicans Hear Collins' Campaign Speakers". Longview News-Journal. 1982-10-14. p. 12. Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  3. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Mayor Ernest Angelo, Jr., of Midland and the 96-0 Reagan Sweep of Texas, May 1, 1976," West Texas Historical Association Yearbook Vol. 86 (2010), p. 81
  4. ^ "James Collins". findagrave.com. Retrieved July 28, 2014.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Texas
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by United States Representative for the 3rd Congressional District of Texas

James M. Collins (R)

Succeeded by