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Oldest Member of Congress Faces Runoff Election

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas), the oldest member of Congress, faces a primary runoff after failing to lock up his party's nomination March 4.

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Hall, a World War II Navy pilot who came to Congress in 1981 and will turn 91 in May, has said this will be his last race to represent Texas' 4th Congressional District. But former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe, who is 48, said he wasn't going to wait to run because Hall had made that claim in the past and run again anyway. Ratcliffe told CQ Roll Call it was time for change and "bold and energetic leadership."

When Ratcliffe was born, Hall had already served about 16 years in elected office, as a judge and a state senator.

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In the 1930s, while working at a drugstore as a youngster, Hall waited on Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, according to a story in McClatchy Newspapers. The legendary outlaws reportedly tipped 40 cents for their order of Coca-Colas, cigarettes and newspapers.

The Dallas Morning News, also noting that Hall has been talking of retiring since the 1990s, has endorsed Ratcliffe, saying: "This newspaper applauds Hall's long service, but there comes a time when new ideas and fresh energy are needed."

When a reporter for KERA, the Dallas-based public broadcasting outlet, recently asked Hall about his age, Hall replied that he still runs two miles every morning and has done so for 30 years. "If I didn't feel fine, if I wasn't healthy as a radish, if I hurt even the end of my toe," Hall said, "I wouldn't be running."

Hall led the voting in the GOP primary but didn't get the majority he needed to avoid a May runoff against Ratcliffe, who pumped $400,000 of his own money into the race, according to CQ Roll Call.

Hall showed a sense of humor about his age in a YouTube ad in which he matched his wrinkles with some of his battles in Congress, saying, "By gosh, I've got room for a few more wrinkles."

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