Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: June 2010, 2nd full term.

Born: February 3, 1970, St. Petersburg, FL

Home: Ranger

Education: U. of GA, B.B.A. 1993.

Professional Career: Owner, Southern Vision; real estate developer.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Baptist

Family: Married (Julie) , 3 children

Republican Tom Graves was elected in a June 2010 special election to replace 17-year incumbent Nathan Deal, also a Republican, who resigned his seat to run for governor. A well-regarded figure among his fellow conservatives but a periodic annoyance to House GOP leaders, Graves lost a bid in November 2012 to chair the Republican Study Committee, the caucus of the chamber’s most right-wing members.

Graves is from the small town of Ranger, with fewer than 100 people, where he still lives with his wife, Julie Graves, and their three children on a farm. Growing up, he lived in a single-wide trailer on a tar and gravel road, the son of a Georgia Power laborer who told him to “dream big and then work hard.” In high school, he wasn’t a top student, but he excelled in math and played both offensive guard and defensive linebacker on the football team. Graves took out loans and worked to pay for college, becoming the first in his family to earn a degree. After graduation, Graves worked for Federated Department Stores, now Macy’s, as an asset recovery specialist. He saved his money, and, in 1995, bought a small landscaping business. Graves eventually sold off portions of the company to begin investing in real estate.

He met his future wife at Roswell Street Baptist Church, and she was instrumental in getting him involved in the anti-abortion movement. He says he opposes abortion “without exception,” including cases in which the mother’s life is at stake. In 2001, he and Julie, the founding president of the Gordon County Right to Life chapter, successfully opposed the construction of an abortion clinic in the area. The campaign propelled Graves to a seat on the county board and later in the Georgia House, where he served more than seven years. While a state legislator, he advocated for abortion restrictions and lower taxes, including a successful 2009 business tax cut bill. Of his political philosophy, he says, “There is a spectrum of conservatism from fiscal to social ... And I’m a conservative all the way across the board.” He said former President Reagan is the figure he most admires in politics.

In the special election runoff to succeed Deal, Graves bested Republican state Sen. Lee Hawkins, 56% to 44%, in a June 2010 runoff for the remainder of Deal’s term. Then, the two faced off again in the primary for a full term. During the primary campaign, Graves called for abolition of the departments of Education and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. He supported constitutional amendments to balance the budget and to give the president line item veto power over spending bills. He also opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants and called for stricter enforcement of current immigration laws.

Graves and Hawkins staked out similar positions. Both supported a conservative proposal to replace the income tax with a national sales tax. Both called for the repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and railed against the $787 billion economic stimulus package. Hawkins cast Graves as “out of touch” and attacked him for a bank loan that had gone into default. But he could not overcome Graves’ backing by national Republican organizations, House Minority Leader John Boehner, and local tea party groups. Graves also outraised Hawkins, $1.3 million to $1 million. Graves won the August primary runoff, 55% to 45%, earning the Republican nomination to run in the general election, which was a pro forma affair with no Democratic opposition.

In Washington, Graves joined the congressional Tea Party Caucus. His first bill was a proposal to deny funding to implement Obama’s 2010 health care law. At the end of the year, he received a slot on the Appropriations Committee, normally a coveted seat for members who want to help their districts. But Graves consistently voted to buck the leadership on spending bills. One of them was a failed September 2011 spending resolution to fund the government through mid-November; he was one of 48 Republicans who voted down the measure to protest the addition of $1 billion in disaster relief funds in the wake of Hurricane Irene and other climate disasters. Senior House Republicans, including some in leadership, reportedly urged that Graves be singled out for punishment on that vote, ideally by being stripped of his Appropriations seat. But Boehner declined to do so -- a favor that Graves repaid with another bout of obstinacy months later.

In 2013, Graves led a rebellion against Boehner's strategy in that year's battle over a bill to fund government operations. With the clock ticking toward an Oct. 1 deadline to pass the measure, Graves proposed that it be amended with a provision to stop funding for Obama's health care law, which was in the early stages of implementation. Boehner and other senior leaders opposed tying the the two into one take-it-or-leave-it bill, but Graves drummed up support from 60 fellow conservatives and under pressure, Boehner backed down. As expected, the Democratically controlled Senate voted 54-44 to strip the health care provision from the government funding bill. The subsequent stalemate led to the first government shutdown in 17 years, which left Republicans vulnerable to a public backlash.

"You don't have to threaten to blow the whole thing up if you don't get your way," Obama said as the shutdown began. Even prominent Republicans such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a former GOP presidential nominee, condemned the strategy as likely to fail. And a Quinnipiac University poll showed that voters opposed closing the government to block implementation of the health care law by 72%-22%. The potential fallout for Graves was serious: If the shutdown proved politically damaging for his party, he would surely shoulder much of the blame, stunting further career advancement in the Republican caucus.

Graves has also drawn some negative headlines at home. He was accused of hypocrisy in March 2012 when The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. bailed out Graves and Georgia Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers for about half a $2.3 million loan that the two men had taken out five years early to rehabilitate a North Georgia hotel.

Still, Graves had little trouble winning reelection that November, taking 73% of the vote. After the election, he sought to head the Republican Study Committee and won the endorsement of the group’s founders, normally considered the key to getting the nod. But the slightly more senior Steve Scalise, R-La., also sought the job, citing his ability to work with the leadership and his success in passing bills. Scalise petitioned for the right to have the full committee hold a vote and, in doing so, pulled off an upset.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5211

(202) 225-8272

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2442
Washington, DC 20515-1014

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5211

(202) 225-8272

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2442
Washington, DC 20515-1014

DISTRICT OFFICE

(706) 226-5320

(706) 278-0840

702 South Thornton Avenue
Dalton, GA 30721-8211

DISTRICT OFFICE

(706) 226-5320

(706) 278-0840

702 South Thornton Avenue
Dalton, GA 30721-8211

DISTRICT OFFICE

(706) 290-1776

(706) 232-7864

600 East First Street Suite 301
Rome, GA 30161-3187

DISTRICT OFFICE

(706) 290-1776

(706) 232-7864

600 East First Street Suite 301
Rome, GA 30161-3187

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

475 Craig Road, NE
Ranger, GA 30734-9703

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

475 Craig Road, NE
Ranger, GA 30734-9703

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Ryan Diffley
Staff Assistant

Appropriations

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Education

Rebecca Anderson
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Environment

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Finance

Rebecca Anderson
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Alicia Stafford
Legislative Correspondent

Gun Issues

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Health

Rebecca Anderson
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Housing

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Immigration

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Internet

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Judiciary

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Labor

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Military

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Privacy

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Science

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Technology

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Transportation

Jason Murphy
Legislative Director

Welfare

Alicia Stafford
Legislative Correspondent

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Tom Graves
Votes: 159,947
Percent: 72.97%
Daniel Grant
Votes: 59,245
Percent: 27.03%
2012 PRIMARY
Tom Graves
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Tom Graves
Unopposed
2010 RUNOFF
Tom Graves
Votes: 41,787
Percent: 55.2%
Lee Hawkins
Votes: 33,975
Percent: 44.8%
2010 PRIMARY
Tom Graves
Votes: 38,851
Percent: 49.47%
Lee Hawkins
Votes: 20,957
Percent: 26.69%
Steve Tarvin
Votes: 11,529
Percent: 14.68%
Chris Cates
Votes: 5,051
Percent: 6.43%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (unopposed), 2010 special (56%)

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