The district was predominantly rural for much of its history, and thus was far friendlier to electing Democrats to Congress even as most of Texas swung toward the Republicans. The district's four-term Democratic incumbent, Max Sandlin, was a particularly severe critic of the DeLay-led redistricting effort, claiming that lumping rural areas with urban ones stifled the voice of rural voters. Indeed, the 2003 redistricting made the district more urban and Republican, especially with the addition of the Republican strongholds of Tyler and Longview. Sandlin was heavily defeated in November 2004 by Republican Louie Gohmert, a longtime judge in the Tyler area. Gohmert is the first Republican to represent the district since Reconstruction. Proving just how Republican the reconfigured 1st is, Gohmert has been reelected seven times with no less than 68 percent of the vote (and faced only token opposition in 2010 and 2012).
The district's best-known congressman, Wright Patman, represented the district for 47 years — the second-longest tenure of any Texan in Congress. He was an early supporter of the New Deal, and later chaired the House Banking Committee for 12 years.
^ abcdefghiUntil 1872, Texas (like some other states) held its congressional elections after the March 4 beginning of the term but before the December date on which Congress began its formal business. Such elections are denoted here as "late."
^Acts 1957, 55th Leg., R.S., Ch. 286, eff. Aug. 21, 1957; Bush v. Martin, 224 F. Supp. 499 (S.D. Tex. 1963); aff'd per curiam, Martin v. Bush, 376 U.S. 222 (1964); Acts 1965, 59th Leg., R.S., Ch. 349, eff. Aug. 30, 1965.
^Acts 1967, 60th Leg., R.S., Ch. 342, eff. Aug. 28, 1967; Bush v. Martin, 251 F. Supp. 484 (S.D. Tex. 1966).
^Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., 2nd C.S., Ch. 7, eff. Nov. 24, 1991; Vera v. Richards, 861 F. Supp. 1304 (S.D. Tex. 1994); Bush v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952 (1996); Vera v. Bush, 933 F. Supp. 1341 (S.D. Tex. 1996) PLANC657