Rep. Kevin Brady (R)
Texas 8th District
Montgomery County, to the north of Houston, was once fenceless cattle country, dotted with roadside stands and barbecues and unpainted farmhouses with water pooling on low swampy fields. In 1931, wildcatter George Strake struck oil near Conroe. Thousands of other wildcatters and roughnecks quickly joined in the boom, and this became one of the richest oil-producing areas in the nation. Active production continues today. The oil boom centered on Conroe was followed by a population boom. In 1972, construction began on a planned community called The Woodlands, 30 miles north of Houston and 15 miles south of Conroe. Development of this new city has barreled along since then, with corporate parks, glistening steel condos, pristine golf courses, and a man-made waterway. Greater Houston has spread far out into this countryside, past the now mislabeled Farm-Market Route 1960, past The Woodlands and even past Conroe. Montgomery County had 49,000 people in 1970 and 413,000 in 2007. It is the seventh fastest-growing county in Texas. There were few signs of the recession that began in 2007 in this region of the country. Even with local devastation from Hurricane Ike in 2008, sales tax revenues increased 74%.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 8th Congressional District includes all of Montgomery County, which contains slightly more than half of the district’s people. The district extends east to the Sabine River on the Louisiana border, and takes in all of eight counties and parts of two others. It covers the Big Thicket National Preserve, a primeval swamp described as “America’s Ark” because of its vast array of animals and plants. The district also includes the town of Huntsville, with one of Texas’s oldest prisons, and the oil refinery town of Orange on the Sabine River, which is popular for bass fishing. It’s gun-totin’ territory as well. After the November 2008 election, local gun shop owners reported a big increase in automatic weapons sales from customers concerned about potential changes in gun laws under Democratic President Barack Obama. Redistricting changes in recent years have made the district less affluent and metropolitan, but it is still solidly Republican. President George W. Bush won 72% of the vote in the district in 2004. In 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McCain won 74% of the vote, his sixth-best district in the nation.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R)
Elected: 1996, 7th term.
Born: April 11, 1955, Vermillion, SD .
Home: The Woodlands, TX.
Education: U. of SD, B.S. 1990.
Family: Married (Cathy); 2 children.
Elected office: TX House of Reps., 1990–96.
Professional Career: Exec., The Woodlands Chamber of Commerce, 1978–96.
The congressman from the 8th District is Kevin Brady, a Republican first elected in 1996. Brady grew up and went to college in South Dakota, moved to Montgomery County in 1978 and headed The Woodlands Chamber of Commerce for 18 years. In 1990, he was elected to the Texas House. When Republican U.S. Rep. Jack Fields announced his retirement in 1995, Brady ran for the seat. His main opponent in the decisive Republican primary was Eugene Fontenot, a physician who said he wanted “to restore America to its Christian heritage.” Brady was the choice of party regulars, while Fontenot was backed by religious conservatives. Fontenot attacked Brady for being one of two Republicans to vote against the state’s concealed weapons law. Brady had opposed most gun control bills but not the concealed weapons bill. When he was 12 years old, his father, an attorney, was shot and killed while trying a case in a South Dakota courtroom. “I couldn’t look Mom in the eye and vote for this,” he told The Houston Chronicle after the vote. After Fontenot led Brady in the March primary, Brady won the April runoff by 53%-47%. After the U.S. Supreme Court in June ordered a redrawing of 13 districts, Brady led Fontenot 41%-39% in an all-party primary in November. Finally, in the December runoff, turnout was sharply down and Brady won 59%-41%.
|Kevin Brady (R)||207,128||(73%)||($610,288)|
|Kent Hargett (D)||70,758||(25%)||($2,928)|
|Brian Stevens (Lib)||7,565||(3%)|
|Kevin Brady (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (67%), 2004 (69%), 2002 (93%), 2000 (92%), 1998 (93%); 1996 (59%)
In the House, Brady has compiled a conservative voting record, though a bit less so on foreign issues and has gained a reputation as more of a pragmatist than other Texas Republicans. Brady is also a deputy whip for the House Republican leadership.
He has focused on economic issues and has a coveted spot on the House Ways and Means Committee. Brady was a central figure in the successful effort in 2004 to make state and local sales taxes deductible in the seven states, including Texas, that have no personal income tax. He was also the chief House sponsor of the 2005 Central America Free Trade Agreement. After Republicans lost control of the House in 2007, he took on two prime committee assignments. He is the ranking Republican on the Trade Subcommittee at Ways and Means, where he has fought for more free trade agreements. He also is the ranking Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, which provides little opportunity for him to influence legislation but is a great soapbox for his views on budget issues. In September 2008, he was the only Houston-area member of the House in either party to vote for the government bailout of the financial services industry. “I don’t give a flip about Wall Street. But as much as I detest this bill, doing nothing is worse,” he said.
Brady has had no problem winning re-election.