91-year-old official ousted in GOP primary
ROCKWALL (AP) - Congressman Ralph Hall, at 91 the oldest-ever member of the U.S. House, was ousted Tuesday in the Texas Republican runoff by a candidate barely half his age.
Backed by powerful national conservative groups, 48-year-old former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe was able to paint Hall as too cozy with the GOP establishment after 34 years in office. He forced the incumbent into his first runoff in 17 terms in the House, then won it decisively.
"I just got whipped and got beat," Hall told supporters in his hometown of Rockwall, where he once had a brush with notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde while working in a pharmacy as a boy. He insisted, though, that he wasn't surprised or sad.
Ratcliffe relied on modern analytics to better target would-be voters, while Hall used more traditional techniques such as direct mailings and walking cities and towns to chat with voters. At his election party Tuesday night, Hall campaign staffers even wrote county-by-county results on butcher paper tapped to the wall.
"We really felt optimistic," Ratcliffe said in a phone interview, even before Hall had called to concede. He said he considered himself an underdog until the minute the polls closed.