Rep. Al Green (D)
Elected: 2004, 3rd term.
Born: Sept. 1, 1947, New Orleans, LA .
Education: TX Southern U., J.D. 1973.
Elected office: Harris Cnty. justice of the peace, 1977-2004.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1973-77; Pres., Houston NAACP, 1986-95.
The congressman from the 9th District is Al Green, a Democrat first elected in 2004. Green grew up in New Orleans, attended college at Florida A&M University and graduated from Texas Southern University’s law school, where he later taught. From 1986 to 1995, he was president of the Houston chapter of the NAACP. In 1977, he was elected justice of the peace and served 26 years. After new district boundaries were created in 2003, Green saw an opening to run for Congress. The representative from the old district that covered much of this area was Chris Bell, a white Democrat first elected in 2002. That year, he ran with liberal support and beat a more conservative black candidate. The primary against Green was a different matter. Green said that he wanted to fight racial profiling and discrimination in law enforcement, and used subtle racial references on the campaign trail, including his promise to bring “a mountain of soul” to the new district. He amassed an impressive roster of endorsements from prominent local and national black leaders. Bell responded by asking voters “not to focus on the color of my skin, but on the size of my heart.” He spent more than $1 million on the primary, while Green spent less than half as much. Bell was endorsed by the AFL-CIO, Texas teachers, abortion rights groups and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. But he struggled as a white candidate running in a district where minorities constituted two-thirds of the electorate. And, a little more than half of the district was new to him.
|Al Green (D)||143,868||(94%)||($384,442)|
|Brad Walters (Lib)||9,760||(6%)|
|Al Green (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (100%), 2004 (72%)
As the primary neared, the racially charged atmosphere intensified. When state Democratic Chairman Charles Soechting endorsed Bell, Green said that it reminded him of “the double standards when African-Americans had to ride on the back of the bus and drink from colored-only water fountains.” The Congressional Black Caucus was drawn into the campaign after California Rep. Maxine Waters hand-delivered a $5,000 check to Green from the caucus’ political action committee and announced that nearly a dozen CBC members backed Green. Bell complained that caucus Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., had earlier promised to support him. Although the caucus itself never made a formal endorsement, its role in the primary angered other Democratic members. In the end, it may not have mattered. Green won the primary in a landslide, 66%-31%. “It’s been a divisive race and in some ways a rather ugly race,” Bell said in conceding. Green faced no real opposition in the general election.
In the House, Green has had a relatively moderate voting record. On the Financial Services Committee, he has worked to eliminate housing practices that discriminated against minorities. He passed an amendment in the House in 2005 to add $7.7 million to fight housing discrimination. In 2008, he worked with then-Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., on a plan to reduce the number of mortgage holders with unstable sub-prime loans, and he passed a bill in the House to expand housing assistance for low-income veterans. Green broke with most House Democrats by voting in 2006 to permit oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, probably the smart vote in a Houston-based district that relies on oil profits. In March 2005, Green complained that he had been racially profiled after Houston airport security officials pulled him out of a line, questioned him and searched him.
He has been re-elected twice without Republican opposition.