Rep. Sam Johnson (R)
Texas 3rd District
North Dallas, the putative location of the 1980s television program “Dallas,” conjures up a certain image of sudden affluence and insolent disdain for those who don’t have it and of shady dealings and immoral trysts in an environment of outward embrace of traditional values. The caricature doesn’t tell the whole story. Dallas got its start as a railroad junction and cotton-shipping center. In recent decades, it has been at the cutting edge of high-technology, and is the home of Texas Instruments, where an integrated circuit on a silicon chip was invented in 1958, and of Electronic Data Systems, the source of former independent presidential candidate Ross Perot’s fortune. The high-tech, telecommunications and defense businesses are less robust than in the 1980s, but the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex continues to thrive. Growth has come from corporate headquarters relocated from less business-friendly precincts, from small businesses, and from companies making money trading with Mexico. Dallas is the nation’s chief beneficiary of the North America Free Trade Agreement. Health care and universities have created many jobs.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Dallas’s growth has extended far into the countryside. The home of the city’s old elite may still be in the mansion-lined streets of Highland Park, only a few miles north of downtown, but Dallas’s business and professional classes have moved farther in Dallas County and up into Collin County’s scrub-covered hills. Back in 1960, Collin County was mostly rural, still part of the district that sent Democratic Speaker Sam Rayburn to the House. It had 41,000 people then, and actually lost population in the 1950s. Then the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex exploded. Collin County’s population grew from 66,000 in 1970 to 730,000 in 2007. It is now the third-wealthiest and the seventh-largest county in Texas. The biggest city here is Plano, with 261,000 people. This former farming community is now the corporate headquarters of companies such as EDS, which was purchased by Hewlett-Packard in 2008, but remained in Plano, and also Dr. Pepper and J.C. Penney. This edge city is the state’s ninth-largest site of mega-mansion subdivisions and the new face of successful Texas. The fastest growth is in the old county seat of McKinney; its population has more than doubled since 2000, to 121,000. Politically, Collin County has been very Republican, even more Republican than Dallas County ever was.
The 3rd Congressional District of Texas includes most of Collin County and centers on Plano. It also covers the northeastern corner of Dallas County, beyond the LBJ Freeway, including much of Rowlett and Garland. In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain got 60% of the vote in the Collin County portion of the district, and he trailed Democratic candidate Barack Obama by 221 votes in Dallas County, which cast 27% of the total. Overall, McCain led 57%-42%, a big drop from President George W. Bush’s 70%-30% win in 2000.
Rep. Sam Johnson (R)
Elected: May 1991, 9th full term.
Born: Oct. 11, 1930, San Antonio .
Education: S. Methodist U., B.B.A. 1951, George Washington U., M.S. 1974.
Family: Married (Shirley); 3 children.
Military career: Air Force, 1950–79 (Korea & Vietnam).
Elected office: TX House of Reps., 1984–91.
Professional Career: Home builder.
The congressman from the 3rd District is Sam Johnson, a Republican first elected in 1991. Johnson grew up in Dallas and graduated from Southern Methodist University and George Washington University. He was a director of the Air Force Fighter Weapons (Top Gun) School, and as a fighter pilot, flew 87 combat missions during the wars in Korea and Vietnam. After his F-4 was shot down over North Vietnam during his 25th mission, he was imprisoned from 1966 to 1973 in the “Hanoi Hilton,” where he spent 42 months in solitary confinement. He weighed 120 pounds on his release, and was left with a slight stoop in his walk and a disfigured hand. On his return, Johnson started a homebuilding company and was elected to the Texas House in 1984. He was elected to Congress in a 1991 special election, after Republican Steve Bartlett resigned to become mayor of Dallas. Johnson ran second in the primary, behind former Peace Corps director Tom Pauken. In the runoff, he emphasized his war record and won 53%-47% over Pauken; he won without difficulty in the general election.
|Sam Johnson (R)||170,742||(60%)||($1,569,813)|
|Tom Daley (D)||108,693||(38%)||($73,653)|
|Christopher Claytor (Lib)||6,348||(2%)|
|Sam Johnson (R)||36,050||(87%)|
|Harry Pierce (R)||3,466||(8%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (63%), 2004 (86%), 2002 (74%), 2000 (72%), 1998 (91%), 1996 (73%), 1994 (91%), 1992 (86%), 1991 (53%)
Johnson has one of the most conservative voting records in the House. He was a founder of the Conservative Action Team, now known as the Republican Study Committee, which has pressed Republican leaders to support goals ranging from a balanced budget amendment to shutting down the National Endowment for the Arts. His chief source of concern is taxation. Every two years, he offers a constitutional amendment to repeal the 16th Amendment, which authorized the federal income tax. On the Ways and Means Committee, where he is the third-most senior Republican, Johnson sponsored the successful repeal in 2000 of the earnings limit for Social Security recipients. He was a leading proponent of pension reform that was enacted in 2006, and in 2007 he introduced a bill to encourage small businesses to join forces to purchase health insurance at lower costs. In 2008, he introduced a bill to repeal the Internal Revenue Service’s requirement that people keep detailed records of their business cellular phone use in order to claim them as tax deductions. That year, he sponsored a bill to increase tax deductions for electronic medical records equipment.
Johnson has also focused on military issues. He helped to enact the Military Family Tax Relief Act of 2003, which doubled the death benefit for families of active members of the military who pass away and also reduced taxes for those families. Johnson has been a defender of the F-22 fighter jet, partly produced at the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth near his district. Johnson gained national attention in February 2007 when he spoke emotionally on the House floor against a plan by Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi to set a timetable to withdraw from Iraq. Invoking his memories of Vietnam, he said, “I know what it’s like to be far from home and hear that your country and your Congress don’t care about you. Our troops stand up for us every minute of every day. We must stand up for them in Congress.” Even though he and McCain, who was also a Vietnam prisoner of war, shared a cell for 18 months, they have had a chilly political relationship. Johnson strongly backed Bush in the 2000 primaries, stating that McCain “cannot hold a candle to George Bush.” And in 2008, he did not endorse McCain until late February, after McCain had wrapped up the nomination. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Johnson was an outspoken critic of John Kerry, whom he called “Hanoi John” on the House floor, a reference to Kerry’s active opposition to the war once he returned from service in Vietnam.
In 2008, Johnson was reelected with 60% of the vote against a poorly financed foe. This was his smallest share of the vote since his first win. Both Johnson and Republican Rep. Ralph Hall of the adjacent 4th district will be in their 80s by the 2010 election, and changes in representation and district boundaries in the North Texas suburbs seem imminent.