Joseph P. Heflin

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Joseph Paul "Joe" Heflin
Texas State Representative for District 85 (Borden, Crosby, Fisher, Floyd, Garza, Glasscock, Hale, Howard, Irion, Jones, Kent, Lynn, Reagan, Sterling, Stonewall, and Terry counties)
In office
January 2007 – January 2011
Preceded by James E. "Pete" Laney
Succeeded by Jim Landtroop
Personal details
Born (1952-01-06) January 6, 1952 (age 65)
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Linda Heflin
Children Two daughters
Alma mater

Eastern New Mexico University

Texas Tech University
Occupation Attorney
Religion Baptist

Joseph Paul Heflin, known as Joe Heflin (born January 6, 1952), is a Democratic former member of the Texas House of Representatives for District 85 in the South Plains. He is the last Democrat to have represented his portion of Texas in the legislature, as the region has since swung strongly toward the Republican Party.

In 2006, Heflin narrowly defeated Republican businessman Jim Landtroop of Plainview in Hale County to succeed the retiring Democrat and former Speaker James E. "Pete" Laney of Hale Center, also in Hale County. In the November 2, 2010, general election, however, Landtroop staged a stunning comeback, having polled 17,426 votes (61.6 percent) to Heflin's 10,853 (38.4 percent). The Republican nominee won fifteen of the sixteen counties in the district, losing only in Heflin's own Crosby County, where the Democrat prevailed 791-388.[1] Landtroop succeeds Heflin in January 2011.

During the 81st Legislative session, Heflin served as member of the House Agriculture & Livestock and Elections committees. He served on the County Affairs committee during the 80th session. At the time of his defeat, he was serving on the Energy, Environment and Agriculture committees of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Life and career[edit]

Heflin received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. In 1993, he received his Juris Doctor degree from Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Heflin is a former Crosby County administrative county judge. He also served two terms on the nonpartisan Crosbyton City Council. Prior to his election to the Texas House, Heflin served five years as the Crosby County county judge.

He has been on the board of directors of the South Plains Association of Governments and the Crosby County Appraisal District. He is a former chairman of the Crosby County Juvenile Board. He is a former member of the Kiwanis Club.

He and his wife, Linda, reside in Crosbyton and have two daughters. Heflin is a member of the First Baptist Church of Crosbyton.

2006 Texas House campaign[edit]

On November 7, 2006 in the general election, Heflin defeated Landtroop by 217 votes, 14,323 (49.0 percent) to 14,106 (48.3 percent). The Libertarian David K. Schumacher (born ca. 1946) of Anson in Jones County polled 793 votes (2.7 percent), a significant showing considering the slight difference between the two major-party candidates. Heflin won six of the fifteen counties, with a comfortable margin in his own Crosby County and in Landtroop's own Hale County.

In addition to Crosby, Hale, and Jones, the district includes the counties (listed in alphabetical order) of Borden, Fisher, Floyd, Garza, Glasscock, Howard, Irion, Kent, Lynn, Reagan, Sterling, Stonewall, and Terry.

Harvey Kronberg, editor of the Austin-based Web site, The Quorum Report found that Republicans initially expected Landtroop to defeat Heflin in 2006 in part because of Landtroop's financial advantage. In the last 30-day campaign finance report prior to the election, Landtroop raised $418,973 compared to Heflin's $86,204. Landtroop reported expenses of $378,104, with $40,868 to finance his final push.

In the last month of the campaign, Heflin raised more than $70,000, some $23,000 less than Landtroop, mainly from small Democratic donors within the district. Landtroop, on the other hand, drew out-of-district money, including $40,000 from the Houston homebuilder and conservative Bob Perry.

Landtroop received $25,000 from the HillCo PAC, an Austin-based lobbying firm that helped Tom Craddick of Midland take the speakership in 2002 after Republicans won a majority in the House. Texans for Lawsuit Reform gave Landtroop $128,000, and Stars Over Texas PAC, which usually concentrates on incumbent Republicans, gave him $150,000.

Heflin made Landtroop's out-of-district funding as an issue. Heflin also got funds from outside District 85: $14,500 from the House Democratic Campaign Committee. The interest group Texans for Insurance Reform also paid for $52,000 in direct mail advertising, polling, and consulting fees for Heflin. The Texas State Teachers Association also announced its endorsement of Heflin, who pledged to fight the consolidation of rural schools.

Landtroop said that his funding edge reflected how competitive he was in the race. In television advertisements, Landtroop challenged Heflin's record as a defense attorney by pointing out Heflin's defense of murderers and prostitutes.

In 2008, Heflin was reelected over the Republican Isaac M. Castro of Hamlin, 22,865 (53.4 percent) to 19,970 (46.6 percent).[2]

2010 House campaign[edit]

On January 4, 2010, Landtroop announced that his challenge to Heflin's bid for a third term in the Texas House. He indicated that he would make partisan affiliation a key element in his campaign, considering the close division in the state house between the two political parties, then 73 Democrats and 77 Republicans. Landtroop won his party's nomination in the March 2 primary over David Andrews, 7,234 (65.6 percent) to 3,800 (34.4 percent).[3]

Heflin said he did not consider his Democrat affiliation a liability: "It's not whether you're a Democrat or Republican. It's whether you're doing your job correctly, doing it to protect citizens that elected you. It's very important you have relationships to work across party lines."[4]

Heflin also stressed his experience as county judge for five years: "I understand how a county budget works. I served on [the Crosbyton] City Council . . . There are those that want to . . . referee the game from the sideline but some of us have been involved in the game for a long time, and I think experience is very important."[4]

Meanwhile, Heflin was fined $1,200 by the Texas Ethics Commission for campaign finance violations.[5] Heflin claims that the fine is excessive and that he merely made clerical errors in the filing of his campaign reports.[6]

Heflin attributed his defeat to "a tsunami wave that hit the country. The angry voters have spoken." Heflin said that the margin of his defeat was a surprise, as his consultants thought that the anger from the voters had subsided after the Texas primary elections on March 2. Heflin said that he would consider seeking office again in the future.[7]


  1. ^ "Texas general election returns, November 2, 2010". Texas Secretary of State. Retrieved November 5, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Texas general election results, November 4, 2008". Texas Secretary of State. Retrieved November 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Republican primary election returns, March 2, 2010". Retrieved March 6, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Anayeli Ruiz. "Joe Heflin vs. Jim Landtroop for State Representative". Retrieved November 6, 2010. 
  5. ^ Steve Munisteri, Republican Party of Texas, Update June 25, 2010
  6. ^ "Enrique Rangel, Commission says Heflin violated campaign finance rules, fines him $1,200"., June 22, 2010. Retrieved June 25, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Sarah Kleiner Varble, "Landtroop topples incumbent Heflin", November 3, 2010". Abilene Reporter-News. Retrieved November 6, 2010. 
Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
James E. "Pete" Laney
Texas State Representative for District 85 (South Plains)

Joseph Paul Heflin

Succeeded by
Jim Landtroop