John Whitmire

John Harris Whitmire (born August 13, 1949)[2] is an American attorney and politician who is the longest-serving current member of the Texas State Senate. Since 1983, he has represented District 15, which includes much of northern Houston, Texas. His tenure earns him the title of Dean of the Senate. Previously he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1973 through 1982. He also served as the Acting Governor of Texas in 1993[3] as part of the Governor for A Day tradition.

John Whitmire
JWMAction.jpg
Member of the Texas Senate
from the 15th district
Assumed office
January 11, 1983
Preceded byJack C. Ogg
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 82nd district
In office
January 9, 1973 – January 11, 1983
Preceded byBill Heatley
Succeeded byNolan J. Robnett
Personal details
Born
John Harris Whitmire

(1949-08-13) August 13, 1949 (age 72)
Hillsboro, Texas, USA
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Rebecca Lynn Dalby (1976-Divorced[1])
RelationsKathy Whitmire (former sister-in-law)
Children2
ResidenceHouston, Texas
Alma materUniversity of Houston
Bates College of Law
ProfessionAttorney

Early life and educationEdit

Whitmire was born in Hillsboro north of Waco, Texas, to James Madison Whitmire, the Hill County clerk, and the former Ruth Marie Harris, a nurse.[2] His parents divorced when he was seven years old, and the family moved several times, facing difficult financial circumstances.[4]

In his early teenage years, he moved to North Houston and attended Waltrip High School.[citation needed] Whitmire attended college at the University of Houston to study political science while paying for his education by working for the Texas State Welfare Department, where he interviewed food stamp recipients for compliance.[4]

Texas House of RepresentativesEdit

Under pressure from the Federal Courts, the 1971 legislature drew up Texas's first single-member district plan for the House of Representatives.[5] Whitmire's political science professor Richard Murray was the one to inspire him to run for office as he illustrated the newly drawn district lines that newly encompassed John's home, church, old high school and the hospital where his mother worked. Whitmire won the primary following a runoff election and easily defeated his Republican opponent.[4]

Whitmire served in the Texas House with colleagues Gene Green, Craig Washington and Mickey Leland and eventually finished his undergraduate degree. In his early years, he was not seen as a particularly influential legislator, and he was criticized by Texas Monthly magazine for his low impact.[4] He began his law studies at the Bates College of Law, then passed the bar in 1981 while still serving in the House. He did not graduate, as state law at the time allowed legislators entrance to the bar without a full J.D.[4]

Texas SenateEdit

In 1982, Senator Jack Ogg vacated his seat to pursue the Attorney General position.[6] Whitmire captured the Senate District 15 seat, taking office in 1983. Senator Whitmire quickly became an ally to policemen, farmers, firefighters, and fought for the rights for municipal and state employees. [3] Recognizing Whitmire's success and commitment to the citizens of Texas, Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock appointed him to the Chair of Senate Criminal Justice Committee where he rewrote the state's criminal laws.

Whitmire handily won reelection to the state Senate in the general election held on November 6, 2018. With 152,728 votes (65.2 percent), he defeated the Republican candidate, Randy Orr, who polled 75,423 (32.2 percent). Another 6,266 votes (2.7 percent) went to the Libertarian choice, Gilberto "Gil" Velasquez, Jr.[7]

Criminal justiceEdit

Senator Whitmire serves as Chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.[8]

Freeing the Tulia 13Edit

Senator Whitmire passed legislation to free the Texans who were imprisoned as a result of the Tulia drug raid. That incident resulted in the conviction of 38 Texans based on the testimony of one individual who has since been indicted and arrested for perjury. The legislation allowed the judge to release the prisoners on bond pending the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals. On June 10, 2003, the Tulia defendants were freed on bond as provided for in Senator Whitmire's legislation. They were later pardoned by the Governor.[9]

End to special last mealsEdit

Whitmire was angered by convicted murderer's Lawrence Russell Brewer refusal to eat the extensive last meal he ordered prior to his September 21, 2011, execution. Whitmire said that this was Brewer's attempt to "make a mockery out of the process." The senator contacted the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and asked the agency to end the practice of last meal requests or he would get the State Legislature to pass a bill doing so. The agency replied that last meal requests were accommodated "within reason" from food available in the prison kitchen, but it agreed to end the practice immediately at Whitmire's insistence.[10]

RedistrictingEdit

In 2003, Whitmire was one of the "Texas Eleven", a group of Democrats who fled the state for New Mexico in 2003 in a quorum-busting effort aimed at preventing the passage of redistricting legislation that would have benefited Texas Republicans. He ultimately returned to the legislature, creating a quorum and undoing the efforts of the rest of the Texas Eleven.[11]

AC in prisonsEdit

In 2021, Whitmire stirred controversy by responding to questions about the lack of air conditioning in prisons by saying “You know, we can talk about this all day, it’s not gonna change. The prisons are hot. They’re uncomfortable. And the real solution is, don’t commit a crime and you stay at home and be cool. We’re not gonna air condition them. One, we don’t want to. Number two, we couldn’t afford it if we wanted to.” Whitmire's quote was featured the following month on a segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver blasting Texas for not air conditioning its prisons, thereby leading to widespread exacerbation of health conditions and even death for some prisoners.[12]

Election historyEdit

Whitmire won re-nomination to Senate District 15 in the Democratic primary election held on March 4, 2014. He defeated his intraparty challenger, Damian LaCroix, 9,756 (75.1 percent) to 3,232 votes (24.9 percent).[13]

Previous electionsEdit

2018Edit

Texas general election, 2018: Senate District 15[14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Whitmire (Incumbent) 153,016 65.18 +6.01
Republican Randy Orr 75,518 32.17 -6.31
Libertarian Gilberto "Gil" Velasquez, Jr. 6,229 2.65 +0.3
Turnout 234,763
Democratic hold

2014Edit

Texas general election, 2014: Senate District 15[15]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Whitmire 74,192 59.17 -3.17
Republican Ron Hale 48,249 38.48 +0.72
Libertarian Gilberto Velasquez, Jr. 2,947 2.35 +2.35
Majority 25,943 20.69 -3.99
Turnout 125,388 -42.45
Democratic hold

2012Edit

Texas general election, 2012: Senate District 15[16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Whitmire 135,822 62.34 +3.06
Republican Bill Walker 82,038 37.66 -3.06
Majority 53,784 24.68 +6.12
Turnout 217,860 +67.51
Democratic hold

2010Edit

Texas general election, 2010: Senate District 15[17]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Whitmire 77,096 59.28 -3.73
Republican Bill Walker 52,959 40.72 +3.73
Majority 24,137 18.56 -7.46
Turnout 130,055 +44.05
Democratic hold

2006Edit

Texas general election, 2006: Senate District 15[18]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Whitmire 56,884 63.01 +2.64
Republican Angel DeLaRosa 33,396 36.99 -2.64
Majority 23,488 26.02 +5.28
Turnout 90,280 -12.74
Democratic hold

2002Edit

Texas general election, 2002: Senate District 15[19]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Whitmire 62,458 60.37 -4.69
Republican Michael P. Wolfe 41,003 39.63 +4.69
Majority 21,455 20.71 -9.38
Turnout 103,461 -29.76
Democratic hold

2000Edit

Texas general election, 2000: Senate District 15[20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Whitmire 95,826 65.06 +3.01
Republican Warren A. Lawless 51,465 34.94 -3.01
Majority 44,361 30.12 +6.02
Turnout 147,291 +12.65
Democratic hold

1996Edit

Texas general election, 1996: Senate District 15[21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Whitmire 81,134 62.05 -37.95
Republican Tom Kelly 49,619 37.95 +37.95
Majority 31,515 24.10 -75.90
Turnout 130,753 +97.09
Democratic hold

1994Edit

Texas general election, 1994: Senate District 15[22]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Whitmire 66,341 100.00 +30.12
Majority 66,341 100.00 +55.79
Turnout 66,341 -33.62
Democratic hold

1992Edit

Texas general election, 1992: Senate District 15[23]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Whitmire 69,844 69.88
Republican Thomas V. Kelly 25,660 25.67
Libertarian George Hollenback 4,438 4.44
Majority 44,184 44.21
Turnout 99,942
Democratic hold
Democratic Party Primary Runoff Election, 1992: Senate District 15[24]
Candidate Votes % ±
Roman O. Martinez 15,390 47.61
John Whitmire 16,938 52.39
Turnout 32,328
Democratic Party Primary Election, 1992: Senate District 15[25]
Candidate Votes % ±
David Alley 1,587 4.97
Roman O. Martinez 15,575 48.87
John Whitmire 14,707 46.14
Turnout 31,869

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "WHITMIRE, REBECCA DALBY vs. WHITMIRE, JOHN HARRIS".
  2. ^ a b Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Records. "Birth Certificate for John Harris Whitmire" (Third party index of birth records for Hill County). Rootsweb.com. Retrieved December 19, 2006.[dead link]
  3. ^ a b "Governor John Whitmire" (PDF). Legislative Reference Library.
  4. ^ a b c d e Root, Jay (January 18, 2013). "For Dean of Senate, Public and Private Blur". The Texas Tribune.
  5. ^ "Overview: Texas House Districts 1846–1982". Texas Legislative Council.
  6. ^ McNeely, Henderson, Dave, Jim (2008). Bob Bullock: God Bless Texas. University of Texas Press. p. 152. ISBN 9780292748491.
  7. ^ "Election Returns". Texas Secretary of State. November 6, 2018. Archived from the original on November 10, 2018. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  8. ^ "The Texas State Senate – Senator John Whitmire: District 15". www.senate.texas.gov.
  9. ^ Whitmire, John (2004). "Legislative Report" (PDF) (Fall). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 14, 2013. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Fernandez, Manny (September 22, 2011). "Texas Death Row Kitchen Cooks Its Last 'Last Meal'". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  11. ^ Bowen, Joe (November 2, 2020). "Redistricting Part One: 2003". The Texas Signal. Retrieved February 20, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ Perkins, Dennis (June 14, 2021). "John Oliver welcomes summer by reminding you that prisons are cooking people to death". A.V. Club.
  13. ^ "Democratic primary election returns, March 4, 2014 (Senate District 15)". enr.sos.state.tx.us. Archived from the original on March 5, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  14. ^ "2018 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  15. ^ "2014 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved November 3, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ "2012 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved November 3, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "2010 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved November 3, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "2006 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Archived from the original on November 8, 2006. Retrieved January 4, 2007.
  19. ^ "2002 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2006.
  20. ^ "2000 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2006.
  21. ^ "1996 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2006.
  22. ^ "1994 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2006.
  23. ^ "1992 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2006.
  24. ^ "1992 Democratic Party Primary Runoff Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2006.
  25. ^ "1992 Democratic Party Primary Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2006.

External linksEdit

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 82 (Houston)

1973–1983
Succeeded by
Texas Senate
Preceded by Texas State Senator
from District 15 (Houston)

1983-present
Incumbent