Leo Berman

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Leo Berman
Texas State Representative
for District 6 (Smith County)
In office
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
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lou Ann Kuck Berman
Children Five children

(1) Arlington
Tarrant County
Texas, USA

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

Retired military officer


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 from 1999 to 2013. 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.


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 included 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 was 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 August 21, 1954), 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 of San Antonio, 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 objected 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 increased in 2011 to 99 of the 150 members. Berman blamed Straus from keeping immigration restrictions and anti-abortion proposals from coming to 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.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11] He was ridiculed by The New York Times columnist Gail Collins when he declared that U.S. 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".[12]

Glenn Beck rally[edit]

In April 2010, Berman attended a Glenn Beck-sponsored "Taking America Back" rally in which he called Obama "God's punishment on us today, but in 2012, we are going to make Obama a one-term president,"[13] a prediction which did not occur. 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.[13]

Defeat in 2012 primary[edit]

Berman was unseated in the Republican primary held on May 29, 2012, by Republican Matt Schaefer, who received 11,138 votes (57.7 percent) to Berman's 8,172 (42.3 percent).mi[14] and was thereafter unopposed in the November 6 general election by a Democratic candidate.


  1. ^ http://www.texastribune.org/2015/05/24/former-state-rep-leo-berman-dies-79/
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b c d "House Membership: Representative Leo Berman". house.state.tx.us. Archived from the original on January 25, 2010. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ Former Texas House Representative Leo Berman passes away
  6. ^ "Republican primary election returns, March 11, 1998". elections.sos.state.tx.us. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c "Leo Berman to file for House Speaker, June 22, 2010". dallasnews.com. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  8. ^ "Christy Hoppe, Berman to File for House Speaker, June 22, 2010". trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  9. ^ "Oh, my, Berman had quite a little tantrum, it seems". digdeepertexas.com. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  10. ^ Robert T. Garrett (June 23, 2009). "Tyler Rep. Leo Berman expects to bow out of Texas governor's race". Dallas Morning News. dallasnews.com. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
  11. ^ Video on YouTube
  12. ^ "Gail Collins on the Department of Good News". The New York Times. April 27, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Wing, Nicholas (April 26, 2010). "Leo Berman, Texas State Rep., Says Obama Is God's Punishment on Us", quoted from Tyler Morning Telegraph, April 26, 2010". Huffington Post. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  14. ^ "Republican primary election returns, May 29, 2012". enr.sos.state.tx.us. Archived from the original on June 10, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2012.

External links[edit]

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ted Andrew Kamel
Texas State Representative
for District 6 (Smith County)

Leo C. Berman

Succeeded by
Matt Schaefer