Leo Berman

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Leo Berman
Texas State Representative for<br< District 6 (Smith County)
In office
1999–2013
Preceded by Ted Andrew Kamel
Succeeded by Matt Schaefer
Personal details
Born (1935-10-21)October 21, 1935
New York City, New York USA
Died May 23, 2015(2015-05-23) (aged 79)
Tyler, Texas, USA
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lou Ann Kuck Berman
Children Five children
Residence

(1) Arlington
Tarrant County
Texas, USA

(2) Tyler
Smith County, Texas
Alma mater Southern Methodist University
Occupation

Retired military officer

Businessman
Religion Jewish-turned-Episcopalian

Leo Berman (October 21, 1935 – May 23, 2015) was an American businessman, military officer, and politician from Tyler, Texas who was a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives for District 6 in Smith County. He was first elected in the general election held in November 1998. In January 2011, Berman announced a challenge to Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio for the presiding officer's position but subsequently withdrew from the race. Though Representative Warren Chisum of Pampa filed his candidacy for Speaker, Straus was handily reelected to a second term in the leadership in January 2011.

Berman introduced legislation to require future presidential candidates to prove constitutional eligibility for office before they can be listed on the Texas ballot, but the measure failed to pass the legislature.

Background[edit]

Berman was born in New York City, the son of Jewish immigrants from Latvia and Poland. He later converted to Episcopalianism.[1][2]

A lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, with twenty-two years of service, Berman was awarded three Bronze Stars and nine Air Medals. In 2009, he was promoted to colonel in the Texas State Guard. He was a lieutenant colonel in the Civil Air Patrol and a member of the executive committee of the Texas Veterans Coalition. He was a retired public affairs executive for Sun Exploration and Production Company. While formerly residing in Arlington in Tarrant County, he was a member of the city council and mayor pro-tempore from 1979 to 1985. Former Governor Bill Clements named Berman to chair the Texas Commission on Intergovernmental Relations and to serve on the Texas National Guard Armory Board.[3]

In 1969, Berman received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. His affiliations include the Texas Association of Business, Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Retarded Citizens of Tyler/Smith County, Boy Scouts of America, Bethesda Health Clinic in Tyler, and East Texas Meals on Wheels. He is a lay member of Christ Episcopal Church in Tyler. He is also a member of the Tyler Civil Air Patrol. He and his wife, Dr. Lou Ann Berman (born c. 1955), have five children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandsons.[3]

Berman died on May 23, 2015, in Tyler, Texas from lymphoma.[4][5]

Candidate for Speaker[edit]

On March 11, 1998, Berman unseated incumbent Republican Representative Ted Andrew Kamel (born 1960), also of Tyler, in the primary election, 6,877 votes (54.4 percent) to 5,760 (45.6 percent). He was then unopposed in the general election held on November 3, 1998.[6]

In June 2010, Berman filed papers as a candidate for House Speaker in the contest held in January 2011.[7] Joe Straus, first elected to the House in 2005, was named Speaker in January 2009 by a coalition of Democrats and a dozen dissident, mostly moderate, Republicans.[7]

Berman objects to Straus' leadership as the presiding officer. The House was divided in 2010 with 77 Republicans and 73 Democrats but had only 76 Republicans when Straus ousted former Speaker Tom Craddick of Midland. The number of Republicans in the Texas House increases in 2011 to 99 of the 150 members. Berman has seen his immigration restrictions and anti-abortion proposals die without a vote on the House floor. Democrats also prevented a vote on the voter identification bill. Berman reportedly wanted Straus to use "strong-arm tactics" to force the measure to the floor.[7]

Berman was known for his "inflammatory language," which he has also directed at Governor Rick Perry, who he has accused of doing too little to stop the problem of illegal immigration.[7]

Another Berman target was former Representative David Swinford, a Republican from Dumas in Moore County in the Texas Panhandle, the outgoing chairman of the House State Affairs Committee. In 2007, Berman complained that Swinford had refused to consider any of a series of immigration restriction bills that he had offered. At the time, Berman placed the price tag to taxpayers for illegal immigration at $3.5 billion per year. He maintains that illegal immigrants create havoc in hospital emergency rooms, where those without insurance or cash frequently obtain treatment.[8]

In 2009, Berman said that he was considering a bid to challenge Perry in the 2010 gubernatorial primary. Thereafter, Berman dropped plans to oppose Perry with the understanding that the governor would support two of Berman's immigration bills and two other measures as well to protect states rights. "All the votes that I would get running for governor would come from Rick Perry's side. . . . He's far to the right of Kay Bailey Hutchison [U.S. senator and Perry's principal primary opponent in 2010] and so am I," Berman said.[9]

House affiliations[edit]

Berman was a member of the Texas Conservative Coalition and strongly supported by the Right to Life Committee. He served on the House Committee on Higher Education and the Committee on County Affairs. From 2007–2009, he was chairman of the House Committee on Elections, under appointment of former Speaker Craddick.[3]

Berman was a favorite of the Christian Coalition, Young Conservatives of Texas, and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Texan Citizens for a Sound Economy, and the National Rifle Association, having voted repeatedly in accordance with the positions of those interest groups.[3] In late 2010, Berman appeared on CNN to defend the legislation that he was promoting to require candidates to prove their constitutional eligibility to run for president in Texas. In this interview, conducted by Anderson Cooper, Berman was unable to present any evidence that would indicate that current eligibility requirements are of insufficient strength.[10]

He has been ridiculed by New York Times columnist Gail Collins when he declared the President Barack H. Obama's long-form birth certificate did not prove that the president was born in the United States, since "there is no plaque in the hospital where he was supposedly born".[11]

Glenn Beck rally[edit]

In April 2010, Berman attended a Glenn Beck-sponsored "Taking America Back" rally in which he decried U.S. President Barack Obama: "I believe that Barack Obama is God's punishment on us today, but in 2012, we are going to make Obama a one-term president."[12] At the same rally, Perry made an appearance, and U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert of Tyler claimed that "demons had invaded Washington" after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March 2010.[12]

Defeat in 2012 primary[edit]

Berman was unseated in the Republican primary held on May 29, 2012, by Matt Schaefer, who received 11,138 votes (57.7 percent) to Berman's 8,172 (42.3 percent). Shaefer carried the backing of Speaker Straus[13] and was thereafter unopposed in the November 6 general election by a Democratic candidate.

References[edit]

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/opinion/28collins.html?hp

External links[edit]

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ted Andrew Kamel
Texas State Representative from District 6 (Smith County)
Leo C. Berman

1999–2013
Succeeded by
Matt Schaefer