Texas has been and is still home to some of the most famous politicians of all time. It is the second-largest state of America and is home to four former US presidents. However, there are several other famous politicians as well that have made their contributions to the country and have their names mentioned in the history books. Let’s take a look at some of the top Texas-born politicians that played a crucial role in Texas politics in the previous years.
Lloyd Millard Bentsen Jr. was born in February 1921 and was a four-time United States Senator from Texas in addition to being nominated for the seat of the Vice President in 1988. Furthermore, he also served as the 69th United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton. Lloyd Bentsen enjoyed a pretty successful career and left behind a legacy that still makes some Texans admire his contributions to the state.
For instance, he paved the way for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which was a long-stalled pension reform bill offering federal protections for the pensions of American Workers. In addition to that, he also introduced the Individual Retirement Accounts that helped improved the access of low-income women to health care and children as well. Perhaps the most important step taken during him being in charge was that he provided tax incentives for independent oil and gas producers so that the dependence on foreign oil can be reduced.
Amongst his contributions, there are several others related to wastewater, water, and infrastructure projects in addition to the preservation of natural areas across the state. Although Bensten passed away a few years ago, his family has continued taking part in politics.
Born in February 1936, Barbara Jordan was an educator, American Lawyer, and politician who happened to be a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. She was a Democrat who was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate and the first Southern African-American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives. Jordan began her political career by running her first campaign back in 1962 and 1964 for the Texas House of Representatives but both attempts were unsuccessful.
However, in 1966, she won a seat in the Texas senate. As a result, she became the first African-American state senator since 1883 and also the first black woman to serve in that body. Then, she was re-elected in 1968 and continued serving for Texas until 1972. Since Jordan was a leader of the Civil Rights Movement back in the day, her death brought many close together to honor her contributions.
For instance, in March 2000, a statue of Barbara Jordan was unveiled at the University of Texas at Austin, where she taught at the time of her death. Although the statue was paid for by increasing the student fee, people felt it was right to honor someone who stood by her morals and principles.
George W. Bush
George W. Bush was born in July 1946 and served as the 43rd President of the United States. He was also a member of the Republican Party and served as the 46th governor of Texas as well. During his tenure as the Governor of Texas, George W. Bush involved himself in several acts that earned him negative criticism. For instance, after easily winning the Republican primary, Bush pledged to sign a bill that allowed Texans to obtain and carry concealed weapons.
Although Ann Richards, his opponent at the time, vetoed the bill but Bush signed it into law after he became the governor. This brought severe criticism as people pointed towards increasing the salaries of teachers and improving educational scores. Instead, Bush pushed through the largest tax-cut of $2 billion. He chose to spend the government’s money on providing education regarding the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse. However, all of it was not negative. In 1999, Bush signed a law that would require electric retailers to buy a certain amount of energy from renewable sources. As a result, Texas eventually became the largest wind-powered electricity producer in the U.S.
George W. Bush’s career as a President of the United States was no better than being a governor. During his tenure, he led many invasions, attacks, and wars that not only cost millions of lives but billions of dollars worth of tax payer’s money. Even today, his overall perception amongst the international community even those who were close to him is negative. They perceive him as someone who led wars against humanity and tried his best to divide Muslims and the people of the West.
Charles Nesbitt Wilson
Charles Nesbitt Wilson was born in June 1933 and was a Naval officer in addition to being the 12-term Democratic United States Representative. The highlight of Wilson’s career involves pursuing and leading the congress to support Operation cyclone, which was the largest-ever Central Intelligence Agency covert operation.
The operation was aimed to supply military equipment to the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan war. He was re-elected eleven times during his career and was liberal when it came to issues like social security, abortion, and women’s rights. What made Wilson stand out from the rest of the Texas politicians was that Wilson was an extreme alcoholic and was involved in several investigations involving drugs.
He was an individual known amongst many to party all day and loved to be around women. His excessive drinking problem forced doctors to inform him that his heart was weakening. While some people remember him as a playboy for being continuously surrounded by women, others deem him a hero for successfully increasing the funding of the anti-Soviet Afghan war.
Ann Richards is also amongst the most famous politicians from Texas who was a Democrat and the 45th Governor of Texas. Although Richards was the second woman to hold Texas’s top office but she is considered to be the first woman elected governor of Texas in her own right. During the mid-1980s, Texas’s economy was almost dead and needed immediate revitalization.
Richards stepped ahead and introduced several programs that helped Texas and the US economy back on track. Although the contributions were minor for the entire country but they indeed help America when it needed them the most. Richards worked towards streamlining Texas’s government and regulatory institutions for business and the public.
As governor, Richards reformed the Texas prison system as well by establishing a substance abuse system program for inmates and reducing the number of violent offenders released. In addition to that, she also helped increase the prison space to cope with the growing prison population. After her political career ended, Richards began teaching and participated in several films as well. She was awarded several distinguished awards that honor her contributions to Texas and several other important matters.
Karl Rove is an American lobbyist, policy advisor, and Republican political consultant. He is recognized for his efforts to help George W. Bush win during his successful presidential campaigns back in 2000 and 2004. Infact, in his victory speech in 2004, George W. Bush termed Rove as “the Architect” and was credited for the success of several other campaigns led by Bill Clements and John Ashcroft.
Since Karl Rove was a Republican and helped George. W Bush win the presidential elections, he was appointed as the Senior Advisor followed by the title of Deputy Chief of Staff to the President. Furthermore, it was not only George W. Bush that led the Iraq war but Karl Rose was equally involved in it.
Infact, it was him who was appointed by Bush to lead the talks. Karl Rove led a mediocre political career while being mostly criticized for taking part in wars and invasions led by the entire Bush administration. Perhaps the biggest criticism faced by Rove was when he defended the Bush administration’s use of torture. He was involved in several other controversies as well such as an e-mail scandal that involved exchanging private information with third-party providers such as BlackBerry.
This was a violation of the Presidential Records Act and over 500 emails of Rove were mistakenly sent to a parody website, which was then forwarded to an investigative reporter.
Born in April 1947, Tom DeLay is a former politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives. In 2005, DeLay was indicted on criminal charges as he planned to violate election law by campaign money laundering. Although he was sentenced to three years in prison but came out free on bail while appealing his conviction.
During his tenure as a congressional leader, he was amongst the most feared but his involvement in several scandals forced him to end his political career. For instance, DeLay was involved in an incident where he was seen holding a Cuban cigar at the time when Cuban cigars were banned in the United States. As a result, the U.S Treasury Department’s enforcement of the Law made it even tougher to import Cuban cigars. However, this ban was partially lifted by President Obama in 2016.
In addition to that, Tom DeLay was found misusing the federal agency resources when he instructed the FBI and FAA to locate the plane that took the missing Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives to prevent the house from establishing a quorum of members. As a result, the house could not act on any legislation. Although he was not a member of the Texas legislature at the time, he became involved and ethically misused both the FBI and FAA. Overall, even though Tom Delay was one of the biggest and most famous Texas-born politicians, he failed to contribute positively to the state itself.
Tom Craddick is a member of the Texas House of Representatives and became the first Republican Speaker in more than 130 years. During his career as a speaker, Craddick began quite unpopular not only amongst the Democrats but his own party as well. As a result, many called for a new speaker to be elected.
In 2005, the Texas House of Representatives turned into chaos when Fred Hill, a republican attempted to raise a question of privilege to remove Craddick from the office but Craddick in return did not allow him to raise the question. Even though several other attempts were made that was disallowed for a time but were eventually successful. Craddick’s political career was short-lived and failed to introduce any significant developments to Texas.
Rick Perry was the 47th Governor of Texas and served as the 14th United States Secretary of Energy. Although he ran for the Presidential elections as well but failed. Perry has quite a successful career as a governor of Texas since he introduced and focused on many successful economic policies. However, the efficacy of his policies has been questioned by a lot of people.
During his tenure, various taxes and debts saw an increase while signing legislation that led to the creation of the Texas Enterprise Fund, granting $435 million to businesses. Moreover, when it came to serious issues like abortion, he was against it and signed bills that restricted certain abortion procedures and funding for them as well. He worked thoroughly to reduce the crime rate in Texas and supported block grants for crime programs and purposed a ban on the execution of mentally retarded inmates.
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Kay Bailey is a member of the Republican Party and previously served as the United States Senator. As her tenure ended in 2013, Bailey was the most senior female Republican senator and the fifth most senior overall. Bailey’s career involved several developments that received mixed reviews. For instance, when it came to the subject of abortion, she is thought to have double views.
On one hand, she is assumed to be pro-abortion rights but then voted to restrict abortion rights later during her career. In addition to that, Bailey was a strong supporter of single-sex education. She worked thoroughly for the No Child Left Behind Act that authorized single-sex education in public schools. She also signed a letter addressed to President Bush to provide federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.
In addition to that, although she was in favor of alternative sources of energy, in 1999, voted to remove funding for renewable and solar energy. Critics claim the considering Bailey as one of the most senior female politicians, her mixed views on several issues restricted her to bring any real positive change to Texas. Although she tried and pushed several bills to allow Texas to progress but most of them could not see the light of the day.
This article aimed to discuss everything you need to know about the top 10 Texas-born politicians of all time. From Lloyd Bentsen to Kay Bailey Hutchison, each individual played a crucial role in shaping the politics of Texas whether good or bad. Texas continues to play a significant role in American politics not due to it being the second largest state but also because it still produces visionary politicians at the end of the day.