John Leedom

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John Nesbett Leedom, Sr.​

Texas State Senator for
District 16​ (Dallas and Rockwall counties)_
In office
1981​ – 1996​
Preceded by Bill Braecklein​
Succeeded by John Carona​

Texas State Senate President Pro Tempore​
In office
1989​ – 1991​
Preceded by Robert J. Glasgow​
Succeeded by Carl A. Parker​

Born July 27, 1921​
Dallas, Texas, USA
Died May 31, 2011 (aged 89)​
Dallas, Texas​
Resting place Restland Memorial Park in Dallas​
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Betty Lee Harvey Leedom (married c. 1955-2011, his death)​
Children Joanne Leedom Ackerman​

Judy Leedom Tyrer
​ Becky K. Trigg
​ Danny Kennedy
​ Linda Leedom Moore
​ John Leedom, Jr. ​

Residence Dallas, Texas​
Alma mater Highland Park High School (University Park, Texas)

Rice University​ (Houston)

Occupation Engineer; Author

United States Navy in World War II

Religion Non-denominational Christian
  • After leaving the Texas State Senate, Leedom devoted his later years as an author and a lobbyist who sought solutions to water shortages and studied weather modification research.​
  • Leedom was an early backer of Ronald W. Reagan for the presidency, including service as a delegate at the 1976 national convention in Kansas City, Missouri, and of George Herbert Walker Bush at the New Orleans convention in 1988. He was also a Bush elector in Texas in 1992.​

John Nesbett Leedom, Sr. (July 27, 1921 – May 31, 2011),[1] was an engineer, businessman, and lobbyist from his native Dallas, Texas, who served from 1981 to 1996 as a Republican member of the the Texas State Senate for District 16 in Dallas and Rockwall counties. He is best known as the author of the law which established the Texas "Rainy Day Fund."[2] From 1989 to 1991, Leedom was one of several members, including the Democrats Kent Caperton and Hugh Quay Parmer, and a second Republican, J. E. "Buster" Brown, who were designated as Senate President Pro Tempores in the 71st legislative session.[3]​ ​


As a youth, Leedom was an Eagle Scout and a member of the Order of the Arrow, the Scouting honorary society. He graduated from Highland Park High School in University Park, Texas. In 1942, he received his Bachelor of Science degree from Rice University in Houston[1] and was employed over his working career in the field of engineering.[4] He established Wholesale Electronic Supply, Inc., in Dallas.[1]​ He served in the United States Navy during World War II.[1]

In 1964, Leedom supported the Republican gubernatorial nominee, Jack Crichton in his unsuccessful race against the Democratic incumbent John Connally, who became a Republican in 1973.[5]​ ​

State senatorial service

​ Prior to his Senate tenure, Leedom served for five years as a member of the Dallas City Council, having chaired its committees on Finance, Public Safety, and Cable Television.[1]

Leedom's 16th District included portions of Dallas and Rockwall counties. He erved on several Senate committees, including Education (1981–1984), Human Resources (1981–1982), Intergovernmental Relations (1981–1996), Economic Development (1983–1996), State Affairs (1985–1996), and Redistricting (1990–1996). In addition, he served on several subcommittees, acted as the vice chairman of the Redistricting and Intergovernmental Relations committees, and headed the interim committees on Fees and Grants (1981–1982) and Agency Services Management (1985–1986).[6]

In the 1976 presidential primary, Leedom ran successfully as a delegate pledged to former Governor Ronald W. Reagan of California, who carried the state primary by a 2-1 margin over sitting U.S. President Gerald Ford. In the Reagan-Ford showdown, four delegates from each slate ran in each of the state's then twenty-four U.S. House districts. Leedom and Barbara Staff, the president of the Council of Republican Women's Clubs of Dallas County, led the GOP delegate totals in House District 3, then represented by Republican James Mitchell "Jim" Collins of Irving in Dallas County, who left the U.S. House in an unsuccessful challenge to in 1982 to Democratic U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen. Leedom received 41,911 votes; Staff, 39,030. One of the Ford delegate candidates was future U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett, who finished with 21,580 votes.[7][8]

After Ford won the nomination, Leedom, a former Dallas County Republican chairman, said that he would campaign vigorously for the national ticket: "We're going to work for the election of Republicans. We've got a lot at stake," referring to local races.[9]

Texas Monthly magazine named Leedom to the list of the "Ten Worst Legislators" in the 1981 session. Others negatively cited were Democrats Carlos Truan of Corpus Christi and E L Short of Tahoka in Lynn County, south of Lubbock in West Texas. Rated among the best in 1981 were future U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett of Austin, one of the Senate's more liberal members, House Speaker Bill W. Clayton of Springlake in Lamb County in West Texas, and Ray Farabee of Wichita Falls, all Democrats.[10]

Leedom was a delegate to the 1988 Republican National Convention held in New Orleans.[11] In 1992, he was a presidential elector for the unsuccessful Bush-Quayle ticket.[11]Historical Election Results: 1992 Electoral College Votes. Retrieved on April 2, 2010.</ref>​

In 1989, as Senate President Pro Tempore, Leedom authored a law intended to prevent security alarm manufacturers from recruiting business from recent victims of home burglaries. The law required government officials to withhold "information that serves to identify a person who appears to have been a victim of an offense that is a felony."[12] Some law-enforcement agencies interpreted Leedom's measure as justification to refuse to release any information about crimes to the media. Leedom said that the measure was "intended to prevent junk mail, that was all. It wasn't intended to be all this. We are trying to clear it up." Texas Governor Bill Clements called upon the legislature to reconsider the bill, which was an amendment to the Texas Open Records Act.[12]

In his last election to the state Senate on November 8, 1994, Leedom defeated a Libertarian Party opponent, Randal Morgan, 108,229 votes (87.1 percent) to 15,959 (12.8 percent), as no Democrat filed for the post.[13] Leedom resigned his state Senate seat in 1996 and was succeeded by a Moderate Republican, the unopposed John Carona, who received a boost in seniority by taking office early.

Author and lobbyist

In 1994, Leedom published a 275-page book, The Group and You: How To Be Effective in a Group, Develop Coalitions and Influence Government, through Odenwald Press in Dallas, ISBN 1-884363-05-9 (hard cover).

In 2002, Leedom wrote Who's Water?, a study of water ownership and shortages.[4] In 2006, as a lobbyist for the interest group, the Weather Modification Association, Leedom attempted in vain to convince the Office of Science and Technology Policy to support a bill introduced by then U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas (the predecessor of Ted Cruz) and then U.S. Representative (later Senator) Mark Udall of Colorado to establish the proposed Weather Modification Research and Technology Transfer Authorization Act. Leedom claimed that weather modification can lessen the impact of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, and hail. However, the bill went nowhere as the Office of Science and Technology Policy cited unresolved issues of foreign policy, national security, and liability.[14]

In 2003, Leedom informed Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst that conditions were right to use the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund, known as the Rainy Day Fund, to balance the state budget. Dewhurst replied that the constitutional amendment concerning the reserve fund stipulates that it be used primarily to either prevent or eliminate temporary cash deficiencies in general revenues.[2]

A trustee of the conservative Grace Bible Church, Leedom died of natural causes in 2011 at his Dallas home at the age of eighty-nine. He was survived by his wife of fifty-six years, Betty Lee Harvey Leedom (born 1928); five children: Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, a novelist and journalist from the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C.; Judy Leedom Tyrer of Denver, Colorado; Becky K. Trigg of Houston; Danny Kennedy of Kansas City, Missouri; Linda Leedom Moore of Clifton Forge, Virginia, and John Leedom, Jr., of Dallas, and twelve grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.[1]

He is interred at Restland Memorial Park in Dallas.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 John N. Leedom, Sr., obituary. Dallas Morning News (June 5, 2011). Retrieved on March 20, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 " [David] Dewhurst and [Judith] Zaffirini Discuss Budget, Rainy Day Fund, and Reducing Paperwork for Teachers," Texas State Senate publication, April 10, 2003; no longer on-line.
  3. Presidents Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate, 1846-present. Texas Legislative Reference Library. Retrieved on March 22, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sallyport: The Magazine of Rice University,accessed April 2, 2010; material no longer on-line}}
  5. Jack Crichton, The Republican-Democrat Political Campaigns in Texas in 1964, self-published, 2004, p. 50, ISBN 1-4184-2574-5 (paperback).
  6. An Inventory of Records of Senator John Leedom. University of Texas Library. Retrieved on April 1, 2010; material no longer on-line.
  7. Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Republican presidential primary returns, May 1, 1976.
  8. Billy Hathorn, "Mayor Ernest Angelo, Jr., of Midland and the 96-0 Reagan Sweep of Texas, May 1, 1976," West Texas Historical Association Yearbook (now West Texas Historical Review), Vol. 86 (2010), p. 82.
  9. Carolyn Barta, "Texas GOP 'fire' wanes," Dallas Morning News, August 19, 1976, p. 6A.
  10. The Best and Worst Legislators since 1973. Texas Monthly (December 2010; material no longer on-line).
  11. 11.0 11.1 Index to Politicians: Lee-cho to Lehlbach. Political Graveyard. Retrieved on March 22, 2020.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Lisa Belkin (June 30, 1989). Texas Law Restricts News Coverage. The New York Times. Retrieved on March 22, 2020.
  13. Texas Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 8, 1994.
  14. Robert Jerome Glennon (2009). Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What to Do About It. Google Books. Retrieved on March 22, 2020. 

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