2014 Archives

To Candidate With More Years, Age Isn’t Off Limits


The following is from the April 3, 2014, edition of The New York Times. SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

April 10, 2014


John Ratcliffe has a lot to say about United States Representative Ralph M. Hall, the oldest member of Congress and Mr. Ratcliffe’s opponent in a May 27 Republican primary runoff. Mr. Ratcliffe accuses Mr. Hall, Republican of Rockwall, of having stayed in Washington too long and of having become a “less effective” legislator.

What Mr. Ratcliffe is not saying is that Mr. Hall, who turns 91 next month, is too old for office.

“I haven’t made age an issue in the campaign,” said Mr. Ratcliffe, 48, who has made term limits a tenet of his platform. “He wants to stay in Washington for 36 years, and I think that’s anathema to the Constitution.”

While Mr. Ratcliffe has tiptoed around the subject of his opponent’s age, Mr. Hall has made it campaign material. In a recent campaign advertisement, Mr. Hall said the creases on his face were battle scars from fighting liberals in Washington. . .

“I’ve been describing Ratcliffe’s difficulty as not wanting to appear like a vulture on the fence post,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. “He has treated the issue of age gingerly because he wants people thinking about it, but he doesn’t want to say in any sort of stark way that Ralph Hall is too old.”

Read the full story.

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