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Thomas Chester "Chet" Edwards (born November 24, 1951) is a Democratic Party member of the United States House of Representatives from the 17th District of Texasmarker, based about Wacomarker, Edwards represented Texas's 11th District from 1991 to 2005 and has since been elected in the 17th District. The district includes the town of Crawfordmarker, the home of former U.S. President George W. Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranchmarker. Edwards was on President Barack Obama's short-list as a potential running-mate.

Early years

A Waco resident, Edwards was born in Corpus Christimarker. He graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M Universitymarker in 1974, earning a bachelor's degree in economics. One of his professors was future U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator Phil Gramm. Upon graduation, he received the Earl Rudder Award, which is given to two outstanding seniors. After graduation, he worked as an aide to Congressman Olin E. Teague for three years.

When Teague announced his retirement in 1978, Edwards ran in the Democratic primary to succeed him. He lost by only 115 votes to his former professor, Phil Gramm, who switched to Republican affiliation in 1983.

In 1981, Edwards earned his MBA from Harvard Business Schoolmarker. He then went to work for the Trammell Crow Company as a commercial real estate agent. Later, Edwards purchased several rural radio stations in South Texas.

Political career

Texas Senate

Edwards was elected to the Texas Senate in 1983, and served until 1990, representing District 9. In the Texas Senate, Edwards was a member of the Senate Education Committee, and helped reduce class sizes in public schools. He was named by Texas Monthly as one of the "Ten Outstanding Legislators" during his tenure.

U.S. House

Elections

Edwards was elected to the U.S. House in 1990 with 54 percent of the vote, defeating Republican Hugh Shine. He was re-elected in 1992 with 67 percent of the vote, defeating Republican James Broyles. He defeated Broyles again in 1994 with 59 percent of the vote.

Since the 1990s, the 11th District trended more and more Republican. Edwards was able to hold onto his seat, though with increasingly narrow margins. In 1996, he was re-elected with 57 percent of the vote against Republican Jay Mathis. He won in 1998 without any Republican opponent. In 2000 he won with 55 percent of the vote; in 2002, he won with 52 percent of the vote.

In the controversial 2003 Texas redistricting, Edwards' district was renumbered as the 17th District, and the U.S. Army post Fort Hoodmarker was removed from the district. His district absorbed College Stationmarker, home of Texas A&M, a longtime bastion of conservatism. It also absorbed several heavily Republican areas west of Fort Worthmarker. Despite the redistricting, Edwards defeated conservative State Representative Arlene Wohlgemuth in November 2004 by 9,260 votes, or approximately a 3.8% margin. By comparison, Bush carried the 17th with a staggering 70 percent of the vote--the most of any Democratic-held district and Bush's 17th-best district in the entire country. Edwards and Lloyd Doggett were the only Democrats targeted by the redistricting effort who retained their seats. In much of this district, Edwards is the only elected Democrat above the county level.

As a result of the redistricting, Edwards is one of two Democrats to represent a significant portion of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, along with Eddie Bernice Johnson.

In 2006, Edwards ran for reelection against Republican Van Taylor, a former Marine Corps reservist and Iraq War veteran, and was re-elected with 58% of the vote to Taylor's 40%.

In mid-February 2008, Edwards endorsed Barack Obama in the Texas March 4 Democratic primary.

In late June 2008, House speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly suggested that Edwards would be a great choice as Obama's vice-presidential running mate. Edwards stated that he would accept such an offer from Obama. On August 22, the Associated Press reported that Edwards was on Obama's short-list as a potential running-mate. Obama eventually selected Delaware senator Joe Biden as his running mate.

In November 2008, Edwards was reelected by defeating Republican Rob Curnock, a Wacomarker video business owner, with 53 percent of the vote.

Committee assignments



Rep. Edwards is one of only six House members to serve on both the Budget and Appropriations committees. As the only Texan to chair an Appropriations subcommittee, it can be argued that Edwards is the most influential Texan in the House. Appropriations subcommittee chairmen are often known as "Cardinals" because of their control of the budget.

Votes

H.R.3962 - Affordable Health Care for America Act.

Edwards broke ranks with Democrats by voting against the healthcare bill, "After listening to thousands of my constituents and carefully reviewing the legislation, I have made a decision to vote no on the House healthcare reform bill."

Family

Edwards is married to Lea Ann Wood from Paducah, Kentucky. They have two sons, J.T. and Garrison.

References

  1. AllPolitics - Congressional Races - Texas District 11
  2. Washington Post profile of Chet Edwards, 2004, Washington Post, retrieved August 6, 2008
  3. "Edwards endorses Obama, KWTX.com, February 18, 2008
  4. Lisa Lerer, "Longshots in the veepstakes", Politico, June 29, 2008
  5. David Doerr, "Republican, two Libertarians file to vie with Democrat Edwards for congressional seat", Waco Tribune-Herald, January 3, 2008
  6. Edwards bucks party, votes against healthcare bill[1]


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