Rep. John Carter (R)
Elected: 2002, 4th term.
Born: Nov. 6, 1941, Houston .
Home: Round Rock.
Education: TX Tech. U., B.A. 1964, U. of TX, J.D. 1969.
Family: Married (Erika); 4 children.
Elected office: Dist. Ct. judge, 1982-2001.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1969-81.
The congressman from the 31st District is John Carter, a Republican first elected in 2002. He grew up in Houston and graduated from Texas Tech University and the University of Texas law school. He practiced law in Williamson County and served as a municipal judge in Round Rock. He was appointed a district judge in 1981 by Republican Gov. Bill Clements and in 1982 stood for election. Judicial elections are partisan in Texas, and Carter was the first Republican judge elected in Williamson County. Carter became known as the father of the county Republican Party. In 2001, after a three-judge district court created a new Republican 31st District stretching from Williamson County to Houston, Carter retired from the bench and ran for Congress. The real contest in this district was among the eight candidates for the Republican nomination. Carter’s main rivals were Peter Wareing, the son-in-law of Texas oilman Jack Blanton, and Brad Barton, son of U.S. Rep. Joe Barton of the 6th District. In the primary, Wareing led with 37% to 26% for Carter and 16% for Barton.
|John Carter (R)||175,563||(60%)||($1,053,850)|
|Brian Ruiz (D)||106,559||(37%)||($23,020)|
|Barry Cooper (Lib)||9,182||(3%)|
|John Carter (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (58%), 2004 (65%), 2002 (69%)
In the four-week runoff campaign, Carter attacked Wareing as a liberal in disguise, pointing to his campaign contributions to Democrats like U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston. When Wareing proposed that each candidate sign a “clean campaign pledge,” Carter offered what he called a “homestead pledge”—a ploy to highlight his charge that Wareing was a Houston carpetbagger who had rented an apartment in the district for the sole purpose of running for the seat. Rep. Barton endorsed Carter as “the only true conservative in this race.” Wareing outspent Carter more than 2-to-1, but Carter won 57%-43%. He got 78% of the vote in Williamson County, which cast 33% of the vote. Carter won the general election easily.
In the House, Carter has been a reliable conservative who has opposed abortion and supported voluntary prayer in schools. He was his freshman class’s representative on the Republican Steering Committee, which makes committee assignments.
On the Judiciary Committee, he won passage of a bill to establish penalties for identity theft. He also won House passage of his Terrorist Penalties Enhancement Act. He objected to continuing the Voting Rights Act requirement that Texas get federal approval of changes in its voting laws, but he voted to extend the act. In 2005, with help from then Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Carter got a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee. As a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, he was well positioned—with Democratic Chairman Chet Edwards of the neighboring 17th District—to defend the interests of Fort Hood. He criticized Republican conservatives who objected to the appropriators’ heavy use of earmarking, the practice of funding projects for individual lawmakers’ districts rather than on a merit system. In 2006, Carter was elected without opposition to the party leadership as secretary of the Republican Conference.
In 2006, Carter faced a challenge from Democrat Mary Beth Harrell, a lawyer in Killeen whose son served in Iraq and who advocated withdrawal from the conflict. Carter won, 58%-39%. In 2008, he won 60%-37% against a little-known Democrat.