Congress’ oldest member is trying to prove wrong those writing his political obituary with a spirited rally around the incumbent effort.
Ralph Hall has enjoyed a long run of electoral success since he was first elected to represent CD-4 in 1980 as a conservative Democrat. He seamlessly transitioned to life as a Republican a decade ago, but the congressman from Rockwall was thrown into a runoff this year with former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe.
The challenger in recent weeks has drawn support from a couple of high-profile conservative groups, the Club for Growth and the Madison Project. That has spurred speculation that Hall might be sent home by runoff voters, who tend to run a deeper shade of red. That’s despite Hall being the top vote-getter in March with 45 percent of the vote.
Hall, though, has counterattacked using the most effective tool available to a 34-year incumbent — his Rolodex.
First, he secured the help of his fellow Republicans in the House Texas delegation. His campaign announced on Wednesday that Hall had the support of the entire delegation, which is easily the biggest Republican state delegation in Congress.
That was followed by news reports of a Wednesday fundraiser organized by House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington as well as Lamar Smith of San Antonio and Mike Conaway of Midland. Organizers expected to raise about $50,000 for Hall’s re-election campaign.
McCaul last month talked about the solidarity in the GOP House delegation with Hall.
“We have sort of code of conduct and honor in our delegation that we stick together, and Ralph’s one of our dearest members, and it’d be tragic to see him lose what could be his last election,” McCaul said.
Hall has racked up endorsements as well from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Secretary of the Army Pete Geren. In the latter case, Geren talked up Hall’s efforts to save the Red River Army Depot. “I’m endorsing Congressman Hall,” he said, “because he fights for jobs and our troops.”
If Hall’s fellow congressmen want to make sure he is successful in his final campaign — he said in December that he would not run again — Ratcliffe is trying to make the case that Hall has been walking the halls of Congress for too long.
At the same time, Ratcliffe has tried to avoid making Hall’s age — he turns 91 next month — an issue.
The Tribune’s Edgar Walters reported Ratcliffe as saying, “I haven’t made age an issue in the campaign. ... He wants to stay in Washington for 36 years, and I think that’s anathema to the Constitution.”