Rep. Lamar Smith (R)
Elected: 1986, 12th term.
Born: Nov. 19, 1947, San Antonio .
Home: San Antonio.
Education: Yale U., B.A. 1969, S. Methodist U., J.D. 1975.
Religion: Christian Scientist.
Family: Married (Beth); 2 children.
Elected office: TX House of Reps., 1980–82; Bexar Cnty. comm., 1982–85.
Professional Career: U.S. Small Business Admin., 1969–70; Business writer, Christian Science Monitor, 1970–72; Practicing atty., 1975–76.
The congressman from the 21st District is Lamar Smith, a Republican first elected in 1986. He is the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Smith is from an old San Antonio and South Texas ranching family. Their Jim Wells County ranch has been in the family for four generations. Smith graduated from Texas Military Institute (now TMI, the Episcopal School of Texas), Yale University and Southern Methodist University’s law school. He worked as a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper and as a lawyer in San Antonio. He was elected to the Texas House in 1980 and the Bexar County Commission in 1982. In 1986, when Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Loeffler ran for governor, Smith ran for the House seat. He won by beating two other San Antonio-based candidates in the primary and then winning the runoff 54%-46% against a religious conservative. His campaign was run by then little-known Texas political consultant Karl Rove.
|Lamar Smith (R)||243,471||(80%)||($1,069,346)|
|James Strohm (Lib)||60,879||(20%)||($3,353)|
|Lamar Smith (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (60%), 2004 (61%), 2002 (73%), 2000 (76%), 1998 (91%), 1996 (76%), 1994 (90%), 1992 (72%), 1990 (75%), 1988 (93%), 1986 (61%)
In the House, Smith compiled a conservative voting record. When Republicans were in the majority, he chaired the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration Subcommittee from 1995 to 2001. He is a strong believer in stronger action to stop illegal immigration and to reduce legal immigration. He opposed President George W. Bush’s guest-worker proposal in 2004 and bipartisan proposals to provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants living in the United States. The guest-worker program, Smith said, “opens up every job in America” to low-wage competition. Like other House Republican leaders, he insisted that better border enforcement must be in place before new guest-worker programs or legalization policies were established. “It’s hard to justify legislation that would reward millions of lawbreakers, attract more illegal immigrants and depress American workers’ wages,” Smith said. He hailed the 700-mile border-fence bill that passed in 2006, saying, “It is an important first step and shows that Republicans are serious about border security.” His bill to split the Immigration and Naturalization Service into two agencies, one concentrating on law enforcement, the other on aid to immigrants, was passed as part of the homeland-security bill in 2002.
In 2001, Smith became chairman of what was then the Crime Subcommittee, where he focused on cybercrime and high-technology issues. He strongly supported the USA PATRIOT Act, the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism law. He also worked with Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont on bipartisan changes to the Freedom of Information Act to make it easier and faster for the public to obtain government information. Smith’s bill creating a 20-year sentence for fraudulently obtaining consumer and business phone records and distributing them over the Internet became law in January 2007. Three years earlier, he also succeeded in passing a bill allowing firms to sell software that could delete offensive passages from DVDs.
When Democrats took majority control of the House in 2007, Smith became the ranking Republican on the full Judiciary Committee. Despite deep partisan conflicts on the committee, he gets along with Democrats better than do many in his party and found common ground on bills to strengthen cyber security and intellectual-property enforcement. Smith worked with Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., to increase visas for skilled workers. But he joined Republicans who opposed closing the terrorist-detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Smith has been active on the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, which polices the ethical behavior of fellow House members. In 2008, as a member of a special panel to determine whether the House required an outside body to police its ethics, he opposed the move.
Smith has been easily re-elected by wide margins.