91-Year-Old Ralph Hall First Texas Republican House Member to Lose Renomination Bid

Thursday, May 29, 2014
Rep. Ralph Hall

In the 144-year history of Texas, no Republican incumbent congressman had lost a bid to run again as his party’s nominee. Until this week.


Ralph Hall, 91, the oldest member of Congress, was defeated in the GOP primary by challenger John Ratcliffe, a former U.S. attorney backed by the Tea Party. Hall’s defeat ended a streak of 256 straight renominations for Texas Republican U.S. House members, dating back to 1870.


First elected in 1980, Hall was attacked by Ratcliffe and the super PAC Now or Never for being too old. The Missouri-based super PAC spent $100,000 on ads to defeat Hall, who had represented the voters of the Fourth District since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. At least one commercial featured a rocking chair, and the recommendation for Hall’s constituents to bring him home for good.


With that outcome now a certainty once Hall finishes out his term, the longest tenured member of Texas’s GOP delegation will be Representative Joe Barton, who has served the Lone Star state in Washington since 1985.


The age-related attacks might just be getting started. In recent weeks, GOP strategist Karl Rove has made several disparaging remarks about possible Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton related to her age. It’s an easy, if cheap, shot. If Clinton were to address the comments, she could come off as old and feeble.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Hall Makes History: 1st Texas GOP US Rep to Lose Renomination Bid (by Eric Ostermeier, Smart Politics)

Why the Oldest Member of Congress Just Lost His Seat (by Josh Israel, Think Progress)

Rep. Ralph Hall becomes Oldest Person to Serve in House of Representatives (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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