Ralph Hall, Us Congress’ oldest member, is first voted out this year

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 8:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 8:56pm


The oldest member of Congress became the first incumbent to lose a primary election in 2014, as former US attorney John Ratcliffe edged out 17-term incumbent congressman Ralph Hall in a Republican run-off in Texas.

In a year when many veteran lawmakers are leaving voluntarily, the 91-year-old Hall had hoped to serve one final term. But the combination of his advanced age and a motivated core of "tea party" voters in the low-turnout race in the state's northeast proved too difficult to overcome.

His defeat ensures that the new Congress that is sworn in next year will be the first without a veteran of the second world war. Michigan's Democratic congressman John Dingell, the only other current lawmaker to see combat then, is retiring.

The race was not just about ideology. "It was a combination of Hall's age, longevity in Congress and being a former Democrat - but it probably took all three of those things to doom him, not any single one," said David Wasserman, who analyses House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

Hall had led the Republican field in the initial March 4 primary but failed to win an outright majority. Prominent "tea-party"-affiliated groups endorsed Ratcliffe, 48, saying conservatives needed a fresh face in Washington.

Ratcliffe launched an ad in the closing weeks of the run-off campaign specifically mentioning Hall's age. Hall faced the age issue head-on. In his opening television ad, he pointed to the wrinkles on his face as a sign that he was battle-tested.