Ralph Hall, Longtime Northeast Texas Congressman, Dies
Former U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, whose career representing Northeast Texas in Washington spanned from the Reagan Revolution to Obama’s second term, has died at the age of 95. Hall’s longtime political strategist Ed Valentine confirmed the former congressman’s death to The Washington Post on March 8.
Hall was a member of the Democratic Party when he was elected to represent Texas’ 4th congressional district in 1980, following the retirement of incumbent and fellow Democrat Ray Wright. Hall defeated Republican John Wright in the 1980 election.
Hall went on to serve in D.C. for roughly three and a half decades (1981-2015). A native of Fate, in Rockwall County, Hall had previously represented the Texas Senate 9th district in Austin (1963-1973). Hall’s lengthy tenure was consistent with the history of the Texas 4th congressional district. Sam Rayburn’s historic tenure in Congress ran from 1913 to 1961. Ray Roberts held the office between Rayburn and Hall (1962-1981).
Voters across Northeast Texas appreciated Hall’s friendliness and accessibility.
“I always remember that even as a small boy, whenever we’d see him at a function around town, he always knew exactly who I was – he knew who my family was,” Hunt County Republican Party chairman Mark Hutchins said.
Current U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe defeated Hall in a 2014 Republican primary runoff election. Hall won a plurality of votes in the six-candidate primary (29,815 votes, 45.4 percent of ballots cast). But with no candidate emerging with a majority, Hall advanced to a runoff with second-place finisher Ratcliffe (18,891 votes, 28.8 percent). In the runoff, Ratcliffe received 52.8 percent of votes (22,271) compared to Hall (47.2 percent, 19,899).
At the time of his defeat in 2014, Hall was the oldest person ever to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as the longest-serving member of Congress at the time. A veteran of the U.S. Navy (1942-1945), Hall was among the last World War II veterans to serve in Congress, along with Michigan U.S. Rep. John Dingell.
After serving under the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and the first term of George W. Bush, Hall left the Democrats to join the Republican Party in 2004. His success at the ballot box continued uninterrupted.
“Today the 4th District of Texas lost a great leader, statesman and friend,” Ratcliffe said in a statement. “From his defense of our nation during WWII through his time as our Representative in Congress, Ralph Hall lived a remarkable life dedicated selflessly to serving his fellow citizens. Congressman Hall leaves behind a timeless legacy that will forever be remembered and appreciated by generations of Texans. Michele and I are keeping Ralph’s family and loved ones in our prayers during this difficult time.”