Politics

Ralph Hall, America's Oldest Congressman, Ousted After 18 Terms in Office

| by Allison Geller

A young (48-year-old) upstart beat out the oldest-ever member of the U.S. House in a Texas primary race on Tuesday.

Republican John Ratcliffe ousted the incumbent, Ralph Hall, after 18 terms in office in a runoff, the Associated Press reports. 

"I just got whipped and got beat," Hall cheerfully told supporters in his hometown of Rockwall.

The 91-year-old has seen his fair share of trouble. The World War II veteran once had a run-in with Bonnie and Clyde while working in a pharmacy as a boy.

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Hall’s defeat was probably due in part to his reliance on old-school campaign methods, like direct mailings and face time with voters in towns across the district. Hall’s campaign staffers even wrote the results on butcher paper taped to the wall as they rolled in from each county on election night. Ratcliffe, on the other hand, used modern analytics.

"We really felt optimistic," Ratcliffe said in a phone interview with the AP before Hall had announced his concession. He was the underdog until the polls closed, Ratcliffe maintains. 

It is also worth mentioning that Ratcliffe, a former small-town mayor, spent half a million of his own dollars on the race, according to the Washington Post.

Hall first ran for office as a Democrat in 1950, winning a congressional seat during the Carter presidency. In 2004, he switched to the GOP side.

Local voters seem the think it is time for fresh blood.

“He's been here for a long time and he's done good things, but I think it's time for a new opinion," voter Anna DiGirolamo, a 19-year-old student at Texas A&M, told the AP.

Since there are no Democratic challengers, it is straight to Washington for Ratcliffe. 

Hall conceded the 47-to-53 percent loss graciously.

“I’ve been 45 and I did better. I’ve been 65 and I did better. I’m 90 now and I didn’t do better,” Hall told the Dallas Morning News. “…I’m not hurt about it. I’m not really terribly surprised about it, and I’m not happy about it. I’m going to keep on doing my job and coming home and visiting people that I love.”

Sources: Associated Press, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News