Open main menu

John Ratcliffe (American politician)

John Lee Ratcliffe[5] (born October 20, 1965) is an American politician who serves as the congressman for Texas's 4th district. In the runoff primary election on May 27, 2014, Ratcliffe defeated 17-term incumbent Ralph Hall.[6] Ratcliffe was unopposed in the general election on November 4 and was sworn in as a member of the 114th Congress on January 6, 2015. He was re-elected to a second term in 2016 with 88% of the vote, defeating Cody Wommack. On November 6, 2018, Ratcliffe was re-elected to a third term with nearly 76% of the vote, defeating Catherine Krantz.[7]

John Ratcliffe
Congressman John Lee Ratcliffe.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded byRalph Hall
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas
In office
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byMatthew D. Orwig[1]
Succeeded byRebecca Gregory[2]
Mayor of Heath, Texas
In office
Preceded byChris Cuny[3]
Succeeded byLorne Liechty[4]
Personal details
John Lee Ratcliffe

(1965-10-20) October 20, 1965 (age 53)
Mount Prospect, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Michele Addington
ResidenceHeath, Texas
EducationUniversity of Notre Dame (BA)
Southern Methodist University (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

In Heritage Action's final scorecard for the 114th Congress, Ratcliffe was ranked as the most conservative Texas legislator in Congress and second most conservative legislator in the country.[8]


Early life, education, and early careerEdit

Born in Mount Prospect, Illinois, northwest of Chicago, Ratcliffe was the youngest of six children; both of his parents were teachers.[9][10] He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and International Studies, then attended law school at SMU in Dallas (now Dedman School of Law) and earned his Juris Doctor in 1989.[11]

Ratcliffe is board certified in civil trial law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has served as adjunct professor of law at various law schools, including Dedman School of Law (SMU) and Texas Wesleyan University. Between 2004 and 2012, he was elected to four consecutive terms as mayor of Heath, Texas.[12]

George W. Bush administrationEdit

Ratcliffe as a U.S. Attorney

In 2004, Ratcliffe was appointed to be Chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for the Eastern District of Texas in the Department of Justice.[13] In 2007, he was named Acting U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Texas and subsequently appointed US Attorney by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.[14] It covered 33,000 square miles (85,000 km2), including almost all of the 4th congressional district. He managed a combined staff of over 100 federal prosecutors and support personnel, 6 district offices, and a $12 million budget allocated by the Department of Justice. [15]

Following his public service, he went back into private law practice, becoming a partner with the former Attorney General John Ashcroft in the Ashcroft, Sutton, Ratcliffe law firm.[16] He served as an aide to Mitt Romney as part of a transition team established before the 2012 elections for vetting potential government appointees.[17][18]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

2014 electionEdit

Ratcliffe decided to run in the Republican primary against 17-term incumbent Congressman Ralph Hall of the 4th district. At ninety-one, Hall was the oldest member of Congress and the oldest person ever to serve in the House of Representatives. The Dallas Morning News wrote that Ratcliffe was Hall's "most serious political challenge in years."[19] In a primary where Hall had begun to look increasingly vulnerable, Ratcliffe received the endorsement of the Dallas Morning News, which applauded Hall's long record of public service but cited Ratcliffe's "impressive credentials" and the need for "new ideas and fresh energy."[20] No Democrat even filed, though the 4th is so heavily Republican that any Democratic candidate would have faced nearly impossible odds in any event. With a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+25, it is the fifth most Republican district in Texas and tied for the 13th most Republican district in the nation.

In the March 4 primary, Ratcliffe finished second with 29 percent of the vote, behind Hall's 45 percent. However, because Hall came up short of a majority, a runoff was forced on May 27. Ratcliffe was subsequently endorsed by the Tea Party Express, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and Club For Growth. Hall was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, former Congressman Ron Paul, former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.[21]

In the May 27 runoff, Ratcliffe defeated Hall with 53 percent of the vote. He won eleven of the eighteen counties in the district, including the four largest (Grayson, Rockwall, Hunt, and Lamar).

John Ratcliffe during an interview with KETR in February 2015
Ratcliffe with President Donald Trump in 2017

Although it is very rare in any event for a primary challenger to defeat a sitting congressman, Ratcliffe's victory marked the first time in 20 years that a sitting Republican congressman in Texas had been ousted in a primary. Hall's defeat was also the first by an incumbent member of Congress in the 2014 election cycle. Ratcliffe was sworn in as a member of the 114th United States Congress on January 6, 2015. He is just the fourth person to represent the district since it was created in 1903, and the first freshman Republican to win it.

2016 electionEdit

On March 1, 2016, Ratcliffe easily defeated two primary challengers by earning 68 percent of the vote total. He finished 47 percentage points ahead of the second-place finisher. Once again, no Democrat even filed, all but assuring Ratcliffe of a second term. In the 2016 General Election, Ratcliffe held a Libertarian opponent to 12 percent of the ballots cast.

2018 electionEdit

On November 6, 2018, Ratcliffe won re-election to a third term with nearly 76% of the vote, defeating Democratic challenger, Catherine Krantz, and Libertarian challenger, Ken Ashby.[22]


The Dallas Morning News said in April 2016 that "Ratcliffe's first term in Washington proves that freshman lawmakers can be players of consequence in Congress."[23]

Ratcliffe's questioning of then FBI Director James Comey during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in September 2016 has become front and center in the debate about whether Comey's decision to not recommend charges against Clinton was predetermined. When Ratcliffe asked Comey in that hearing whether Comey made his decision to not recommend charges against Clinton before or after interviewing her, he responded "after." That answer under oath potentially contradicts subsequent reports that Comey began drafting his exoneration memo before interviewing Clinton.[24]

Ratcliffe is a member of the Republican Study Committee[25] and the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus.[26]

In late 2018, Ratcliffe was reportedly considered for the role of Attorney General by the Trump Administration.[27][28]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Political positionsEdit

National securityEdit

Ratcliffe supported President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to temporarily curtail immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries until better screening methods are devised. He stated, "I applaud President Trump's actions to vamp up the vetting of refugees attempting to enter our country."[30]


Ratcliffe, in his role as Chairman of the United States House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection, has been an active cybersecurity legislator. On November 2, 2017, Donald Trump signed Ratcliffe's H.R. 1616 "Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act of 2017" into public law.[31] On December 16, 2016, Barack Obama signed Ratcliffe's H.R. 5877 "United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act of 2016" into public law.[32] In March 2014, Ratcliffe oversaw a congressional hearing, "The Current State of DHS Private Sector Engagement for Cybersecurity", that studied ways to get the private sector and the Department of Homeland Security to better cooperate to prevent terrorist activity. He secured testimony from various organizations: the Hitrust Alliance, Intel Security Group, Symantec, Palo Alto Networks, and New America's Open Technology Institute.[33]

Net neutralityEdit

In December 2017, Ratcliffe signed a letter from Congress (along with 106 other members of Congress) to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai supporting his plan to repeal net neutrality ahead of the commission's vote.[34]

Personal lifeEdit

Ratcliffe and his wife, Michele, reside with their two daughters in Heath, Texas.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Ratcliffe assumes role as lead law enforcement officer for East Texas". Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  2. ^ "Senate Confirms Becky Gregory As New U.S. Attorney For Eastern District Of Texas". April 29, 2008. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  3. ^ "Elected Officials". Archived from the original on April 30, 2004. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  4. ^ Justin Cheatham. "New officials take command of Heath council". Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  5. ^ "State Bar of Texas - Find A Lawyer: John Lee Ratcliffe". Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  6. ^ O'Keefe, Ed (May 27, 2014). "Rep. Ralph Hall defeated by John Ratcliffe". Retrieved December 19, 2017 – via
  7. ^ "Rep. John Ratcliffe wins Texas's 4th Congressional District seat". Washington Post.
  8. ^ "Heritage Scorecard". Heritage Action for America. December 24, 2016. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
  9. ^ "John's Story". Ratcliffe for Congress. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  10. ^ a b "Biography". Congressman John Ratcliffe. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  11. ^ "Biography". December 11, 2012.
  12. ^ "John Ratcliffe". The Ashcroft Group. Archived from the original on May 29, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  13. ^ "John Ratcliffe touts time as U.S. attorney in run against U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall | Local Politics". Dallas News. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  14. ^ "Ex-US Attorney John Ratcliffe files against Ralph Hall". December 9, 2013.
  15. ^ "Bio" (PDF).
  16. ^ "Four Former U.S. Attorneys Join Ashcroft Law Firm - Texas Lawyer".
  17. ^ O'Keefe, Ed (May 27, 2014). "Rep. Ralph Hall defeated by John Ratcliffe". Washington Post. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  18. ^ Liddell, Christopher; Kroese, Daniel; Campbell, Clark (May 1, 2013). "Romney Readiness Project: Retrospective & Lessons Learned". R2P Inc. – via Amazon.
  19. ^ Gillman, Todd (December 9, 2013). "Ex-US Attorney John Ratcliffe files against Ralph Hall". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  20. ^ "Editorial: We recommend Ratcliffe in the 4th Congressional District's GOP primary". Dallas Morning News. January 22, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  21. ^ DelReal, Jose (May 27, 2014). "Ralph Hall loses Texas GOP runoff". Politico. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  22. ^ reports, From staff and wire. "Report: U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas among possible AG candidates".
  23. ^ "Editorial: We recommend John Ratcliffe in GOP race for 4th Congressional District". Dallas News. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  24. ^ "New Pressure on Comey to Return to Capitol Hill". Fox News. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  25. ^ "Member List". Republican Study Committee. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  26. ^ "Members". Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  27. ^ NBC News, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Julia Ainsley. "Ratcliffe, Gowdy join list of potential attorney general picks". NBC News. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  28. ^ Tribune, The Texas (November 11, 2018). "Report: U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas among possible AG candidates".
  29. ^ "Committees and Caucuses". U.S Congressman John Ratcliffe. Office of Congressman John Ratcliffe. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  30. ^ Blake, Aaron. "Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump's travel ban; here's where the rest stand". Denver Post. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  31. ^ Ratcliffe, John (November 2, 2017). "Text - H.R.1616 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act of 2017".
  32. ^ John, Ratcliffe, (December 16, 2016). "H.R.5877 - 114th Congress (2015-2016): United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act of 2016".
  33. ^ "Ratcliffe chairs hearing on DHS-private sector partnerships on cybersecurity". Homeland Preparedness News. March 14, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  34. ^ "Letter to the FCC on Restoring Internet Freedom". Energy and Commerce Committee. December 13, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017.

External linksEdit