Congressman Ralph Hall (Republican, Rockwall), at age 90, is the oldest serving member of the US Congress. Rep. Hall was first elected in 1980 as Democrat, and campaigned as one until he switched his party affiliation in 2004 after Tom DeLay's redistricting scheme made his conservative district a very-conservative district. However, Rep. Hall was not much of a Democrat; he was one of a handful of Democrats who voted to impeach President Clinton and endorsed then-Governor George W. Bush for President in 2000.
At first, Rep. Hall was welcomed to the Texas Republican Party. In 2004 he won his first Republican primary with 78% of the vote and was not challenged in the primary in 2006 or 2008. However, in 2010 with the rise of the TEA Party, Rep. Hall was held to 57% against six challengers. In 2012, a similar scene unfolded when he was held to 58% against two challengers.
In 2014, Congressman Ralph Hall is challenged by five other Republicans. The most notable is John Ratcliffe, a former US Attorney and former Mayor of Heath, Texas. In the last quarter, Ratcliffe out-raised Rep. Hall $71,127 to $62,050. Making things worse for Hall, Ratcliffe has loaned his campaign an additional$400,300. As of January 1st, Rep. Hall had $111,448 left in his bank account and John Ratcliffe had $431,713 left to spend.
Dragging Rep. Hall down even further, for the first time in his thirty-four year career, The Dallas Morning News has endorsed a challenger to the incumbent congressman; in this case John Ratcliffe. Read the entire text of The Dallas Morning News' endorsement against Rep. Hall after the jump.
Rep. Ralph Hall, 90, is the oldest person to serve in the U.S. House. By focusing on constituent services and maintaining a consistently conservative record, Hall has been sent to Capitol Hill 17 times by voters in the 4th Congressional District.
Hall, of Rockwall, has said this will be his final campaign, but we've heard that before. In 1994, he was “thinking about retiring.” In 1996, he was “99 percent sure I'm going for my last term.” And in 2001, Hall said he would retire after President George W. Bush's first term.
This newspaper applauds Hall's long service, but there comes a time when new ideas and fresh energy are needed. Voters have a clear alternative in this Republican primary, particularly given the impressive credentials of challenger John Ratcliffe, 48, a former U.S. attorney and mayor of Heath.
Ratcliffe is just one of five challengers in this primary, the winner of which will face no Democratic opposition in November. But the others – businessman Lou Gigliotti, 64; real estate agent Tony Arterburn, 34; engineering manager Brent Lawson, 49; and investment adviser John Stacy, 33 – lack government experience and seem more focused on ideology than policy.
Ratcliffe, on the other hand, was not only U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas but served as the Department of Justice's chief of anti-terrorism and national security in that district. A conservative, his familiarity with the federal government came through in our candidate interview, in nuanced views and an understanding of the complexity of issues before Congress. He should be given the opportunity to serve there.
Should no candidate receive over 50% of the vote on March 4th, the top two finishers will proceed to a run-off to be held in early April. The winner of the Republican primary will face Libertarian J.P. Raley in November. No Democrat filed for this seat.
See a complete list of who is running for US Congress in Texas in our Burnt Orange Report Candidate Tracker.
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