Tommy Merritt

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Thomas Charles "Tommy" Merritt
The Honorable Tommy Merritt.jpg
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 7th district
In office
January 14, 1997 – January 11, 2011
Preceded byJerry Yost
Succeeded byDavid Simpson
Personal details
Born (1948-02-27) February 27, 1948 (age 72)
Kilgore, Texas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Janet Merritt
ChildrenMissy, Meredith, Thomas
ResidenceKilgore, Texas
Alma materKilgore College
Texas Christian University (BBA, 1970)

Thomas Charles "Tommy" Merritt (born February 27, 1948)[1] is an American businessman from Longview, Texas and a Republican former member of the Texas House of Representatives. Merritt represented District 7 from January 1997[1] until January 2011. In March 2010, he lost the Republican nomination to David Simpson.[2]

Seeking another political comeback, Merritt finished second in the March 4, 2014 Republican primary for the statewide position of Texas Commissioner of Agriculture. He polled 248,568 (21 percent) of the ballots cast. In the runoff election on May 27, Merritt was defeated by a former House colleague, Sid Miller of Stephenville, 362,573 votes (53.1 percent) to 320,434 (46.9 percent).[3] In the primary, Miller had also led Merritt, 35 to 21 percent. The three eliminated candidates, Eric Opiela of Karnes City, Joe Cotten of Frisco, and Mayor J. Allen Carnes of Uvalde, held a combined 44 percent of the primary ballots, critical to the outcome of the runoff contest in which turnout dropped sharply.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Merritt is a native East Texan born in Kilgore.[5] After graduating from high school, he attended Kilgore College and then graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.[5] He and his wife, Janet, have three children, Missy, Meredith, and Thomas.[5] Tommy Merritt is a devout Christian and member of Kilgore First Baptist Church, the Businessmen's Bible Club at the First Baptist Church in Longview, and he also attends the BarNone Cowboy Church in Tatum, Texas.[6]

Business career[edit]

From 1971 to 1974, Merritt worked as an inspector for the United States Postal Service.[5] In 1976, he founded Gregg Industrial Insulators, Inc.[7] It was admitted to the OSHA, Voluntary Protection Program,[7] [1] and is a multi-million dollar company[8] which employs more than five hundred workers.[7] From 1986 to 1993 Merritt served as one of the directors of the Gregg County Appraisal Board, which led to his appointment by Governor Bill Clements to the Sabine River Authority in 1990.[5]

Political career[edit]

After Republican Jerry Yost decided not to run for reelection in 1996, Merritt entered the Republican primary and won more than 62 percent of the vote.[9] Merritt went on to win a seat in the Texas House of Representatives after being unopposed in the 1996 general election; in 2008 he was elected to a seventh term.[10] Tommy Merritt co-authored the bill which added "Under God" to the Texas Pledge.[11]

Merritt served on numerous committees in the House:[10]

  • Committee on Energy Resources (Chair and Vice Chair)
  • Committee on Public Safety (Chairman)
  • Committee on Local and Consent Calendars (Member)
  • Committee on Redistricting (Member)
  • Committee on Transportation (Member)

Throughout his tenure in the House, Merritt built a solid conservative record on issues including opposition to gun control, same-sex marriage, and abortion, as well as lower government spending and taxes.

In 2009, Merritt authored "campus carry" legislation allowing concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons on college campuses,[12] while in 2007, Merritt authored legislation waiving or reducing concealed license handgun fees for military members and veterans.[13]

Merritt strongly opposed same-sex marriage. In 2005, he co-authored the state constitutional amendment that defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman.[14] Merritt also co-authored bills to keep the state from recognizing same-sex civil unions in 2003.[15][16] 2001,[16] 1999,[17] and 1997.[18]

While a member of the Texas House, Merritt also strongly opposed abortion, co-authoring bills to issue Choose Life license plates in 2009,[19] to institute legal penalties for harm to a fetus in 2003,[20] to ban human cloning in 2007,[21] and to require parental consent for minors to obtain abortions in 2005.[22] 1999,[23][24][25][26] and 1997.[27]

In 2003, Merritt co-authored legislation requiring Texas students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance[28] as well as a bill to guarantee a daily moment of silence in Texas public schools.[15] In 2007, Merritt co-authored legislation to include the phrase "Under God" in the Texas Pledge of Allegiance[29]

Merritt also had a strong record of fighting for lower spending and lower taxes.

In 2009, Merritt co-authored legislation to limit growth in state spending to the rate of population growth plus the rate of inflation.[30] That same year, he co-authored a proposed constitutional amendment requiring a 2/3 vote of both houses of the Legislature to raise taxes.[31]

Real property tax reform was another of Merritt's priorities in the Texas House. In 1999, he authored a proposed constitutional amendment to cap property taxes. In 2005 he authored both a bill[32] and a proposed constitutional amendment[33] to bring property tax relief to Texans. In 2009, he again authored legislation to reform property tax appraisals[34] and proposed a constitutional amendment to cap property appraisal increases at the rate of inflation.[35]

In 2009, Merritt co-authored legislation to reform the state's franchise tax, exempting more small businesses.[36] Merritt also authored or co-authored numerous bills to overturn and subsequently prohibit inheritance taxes in Texas in 2005[37][38] and 2003.[28][39]

Merritt also authored the bill establishing the first Texas Legislative Medal of Honor in this history of the state.[40]

Candidacy for Speaker of the House[edit]

In November 2008, Merritt announced his candidacy for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.[41] After a meeting, ten Republicans running for Speaker had decided on Joe Straus as the Republican candidate. Merritt stated he was willing to end his own candidacy to support Straus, who won a unanimous vote for Speaker.[42]

Loss of Republican nomination[edit]

In March 2010, Merritt lost the Republican nomination for District 7 to David Simpson, former mayor of Avinger. Simpson received 53 percent of the primary vote[2] and was then unopposed in the general election.

Meanwhile, Simpson, who beat back Merritt's attempt in 2012 to return to the House, was a candidate in January 2013 for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives against Joe Straus of San Antionio, whom Merritt had supported in 2009, when Straus ousted the previous Republican speaker, Tom Craddick of Midland.

Election results[edit]


Texas Republican primary election, 2012: House District 7[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican David Simpson (Incumbent) 10,258 61.63
Republican Tommy Merritt 6,384 38.36


Texas Republican primary election, 2010: House District 7[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican David Simpson 7,891 52.87
Republican Tommy Merritt (Incumbent) 7,032 47.12


Texas general election, 2008: House District 7[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Tommy Merritt (Incumbent) 40,671 88.34
Libertarian Joey R. Stroman 5,368 11.65


Texas general election, 2006: House District 7[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Tommy Merritt (Incumbent) 20,810 68.43
Democratic Patrick Franklin 8,701 28.61
Libertarian Jonathan A. Rasco 897 2.94


Texas general election, 2004: House District 7[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Tommy Merritt (Incumbent) 40,787 100


Texas general election, 2002: House District 7[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Tommy Merritt (Incumbent) 26,265 100


Texas general election, 2000: House District 7[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Tommy Merritt (Incumbent) 29,574 100


Texas general election, 1998: House District 7[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Tommy Merritt (Incumbent) 18,395 100


Texas general election, 1996: House District 7[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Tommy Merritt 26,351 100


  1. ^ a b "Rep. Tommy Merritt - Texas State Directory Online" Retrieved on 2009-2-9.
  2. ^ a b "Merritt stunned, Simpson wins". Longview News-Journal. 2010-03-08. Archived from the original on 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  3. ^ "2014 Republican Party Primary Runoff: Election Night Returns". Texas Secretary of State. Archived from the original on May 29, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  4. ^ "Republican primary election returns, March 4, 2014". Archived from the original on March 6, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e Texas House of Representatives, Members Biography - "Rep. Tommy Merritt" Retrieved on 2009-2-15
  6. ^ Merritt, Tommy. "About".
  7. ^ a b c Gregg Industrial Insulators Website
  8. ^ Gregg Industrial Insulatiors, Inc. - Company Profile Retrieved on 2009-2-15
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "1992 - Current Election History". Office of the Texas Secretary of State. Archived from the original on 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  10. ^ a b "Merritt, Hopson get committee chairmanships". Longview News-Journal. 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2009-02-22.[dead link]
  11. ^ "Bill: HB 1034". Texas Legislature. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
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  41. ^ Gregg County GOP Retrieved 2009-02-16
  42. ^ Burn Orange Report Joe Straus's List of 85 Pledged Supporters for Speaker, Written 2009-01-4, Retrieved 2009-02-16

External links[edit]

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jerry Yost
Texas State Representative from District 7
Succeeded by
David Simpson