O. H. "Ike" Harris

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Orland Harold "Ike" Harris​

Texas State Senator for District 8 (Dallas County)​
In office
1967​ – 1995​
Preceded by George M. Parkhouse​
Succeeded by Florence Shapiro​

Texas Senate President Pro Tempore​
In office
1973​ – 1973​
Preceded by Oscar Mauzy​
Succeeded by Max Sherman​

Texas State Representative
for Dallas County​
In office
1963​ – 1965​
Preceded by Bill Jones​
Succeeded by John Wright​

Born June 5, 1932
Place of birth missing

Former Dallas resident

Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)
Children
Residence Austin, Travis County, Texas​
Alma mater University of North Texas

Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University

Occupation Attorney
Lobbyist
Religion
Note:
  • On more than one occasion, Harris was voted among the "Worst Members of the Legislature" by Texas Monthly magazine during his state Senate tenure from 1967 to 1995.

Orland Harold Harris, known as O. H. "Ike" Harris (born June 5, 1932), is an attorney and lobbyist in the capital city of Austin, Texas,[1] who served from 1963 to 1965 and 1967 to 1995 as a Republican member from Dallas County in both houses of the state legislature. He was elected to his single two-year term as a state representative in 1962. His Senate tenure in Texas began in 1967 to 1995. In his final 1993–1995 biennial term, Harris was the dean, or senior member in tenure, among all of the state senators.​

Harris is particularly remembered for having authored legislation that permits parimutuel betting at horse race tracks in Texas.[2] On October 10, 2009, the racing industry honored him with its JoAnn Weber Distinguished Service Award during induction ceremonies of the Texas Racing Hall of Fame held at Retama Park in Selma, Texas, near San Antonio.[3] He also worked to implement interstate banking, insurance reform, and the expansion of the University of Texas at Dallas to a four-year institution. In 1973, he was the President pro tempore of the Texas Senate in the 63rd Legislative Session.[2]

Background

​ In 1954, Harris received his Bachelor of Science degree in political science from the University of North Texas in Denton. Upon graduation, he entered the United States Air Force, where he was an instructor pilot until his honorable discharge with the rank of captain in 1957. He then entered the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University, at which he served as president of the law school and the student body. Harris assumed the nickname "Ike" from an older brother while he was seeking the SMU student body presidency. This may have been in acknowledgement of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a native-born Texan also referred to by that appellation.[4] Harris was affiliated with Cycen Fjodr, a men's honorary society; Barristers, a legal honorary society, and he was listed among Who's Who Among American Colleges and Universities.[2]

Legislative service

​ In 1962, Harris won his single two-year term in the Texas House, having succeeded the two-term Democrat Bill Jones of Dallas. Two years later, Harris was unseated by John Wright of Grand Prairie,[5] as the Democrats swept Texas and Dallas County, then previously one of the state's more Republican-leaning areas. President Lyndon B. Johnson won a huge margin nationally and in Texas over the Republican nominee, U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. Even the lone Dallas County Republican U.S. Representative, Bruce Reynolds Alger (1918-2015), along with colleague Ed Foreman, then of Odessa and later Dallas, were defeated. Alger had served since 1955; Foreman only for the 1963–1965 U.S. House term.[6] Harris' elevation to the state Senate occurred in a special election after the death in August 1967 of Democratic state Senator George M. Parkhouse.​

Texas Monthly magazine more than once named Harris among the "Top Ten Worst Legislators." In 1975, the publication called him "a playboy . . . a double zero as a legislator ... a sad case of unapplied talent; he's perfectly capable of being an outstanding member (he's not dumb), and his colleagues like him though he doesn't care enough to try. Sits through committee meetings looking bored and restless, as though he were daydreaming at a sermon. Regards attendance at Senate sessions as a burden to be tolerated for the sake of the after-hours fringe benefits. ... Seems to operate on the principle that if you have enough special interests, eventually you'll have a majority of the people behind you."[7]

In the 1975 legislation session, Harris supported legislation that delayed the time from seven to fifteen years that uncashed traveler's checks revert to the Texas state treasury instead of the coffers of the express companies. The measure cost the state approximately $150,000 per year. Harris also favored requiring citizens to pay a fee for seeking access to public records. Another Harris measure, supported by building contractors, weakened measures requiring fire escapes in new buildings.[7]

During his twenty-seven years in the Senate, Harris served for a time as chairman of the (1) State Affairs, (2) Economic Development, and (3) Jurisprudence committees. He was vice-chairman of the (1) Committee of the Whole on Redistricting, Ethics and Elections, (2) Nominations Committee, and the Sunset Advisory Commission, which recommends over a 12-year cycle the elimination of certain useless state bureaucracies.[2]​ As a legislator, Harris held membership in the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Texas Judicial Council, Legislative Natural Resources Board, and the Legislative Budget​ Board.[2]

Partisan matters

Texas Monthly found Harris more interested in social parties than his own Republican Party. Texas Monthly said that Harris "has a long history of talking like a Republican back home but voting compliantly with the Democratic Senate leadership."[7] Harris referred most GOP matters to his Tarrant County colleague, Betty Andujar (1912-1997) of Fort Worth.[7] In 1976, Harris joined U.S. Senator John Tower of Texas in supporting President Gerald Ford for nomination to a full term in the first ever Texas primary in which presidential convention delegates were chosen by voters.[8] Ford, however, was defeated 2-1 in the primary[9] by a coalition supporting Ronald W. Reagan, headed by cochairmen Ernest Angelo, Jr., of Midland, Ray Barnhart of Pasadena in Harris County, and Barbara Staff of Dallas, as well as Betty Andujar. Ford ultimately still defeated Reagan at the 1976 Republican National Convention held at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri.​

In his last Senate election in 1992, Harris had no Democratic opponent and polled 83 percent of the vote against the nominee of the Libertarian Party.[10] He did not run again in 1994.

In his legal and lobbying work, Harris represents clients before the legislature. His expertise is in taxation, economic and industrial development, oil and natural gas, education, and private property interests.[2]

References

  1. Hired Guns. projects.publicintegrity.org. Retrieved on April 18, 2010; no longer accessible on-line.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Speaker Biographies: O.H. "Ike" Harris. texasimpact.org. Retrieved on April 18, 2010; no longer accessible on-line.
  3. Texas Racing Commission awards 2010 racing dates. texasthoroughbred.com. Retrieved on April 18, 2010; no longer accessible on-line.
  4. Billy Clyde (June 14, 2007). It Was the Best of Times; It Was the Worst of Times. politicalhottubparty.blogspot.com. Retrieved on January 29, 2020.
  5. O. H. "Ike" Harris: Legislative Reference Library of Texas. lrl.state.tx.us. Retrieved on January 29, 2020.
  6. Texas Secretary of State, General election returns, November 3, 1964.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 (July 1975) Texas Monthly: The Ten Worst. Google Books. Retrieved on January 29, 2020. 
  8. The Daily Diary of President Gerald R. Ford. ford.utexas.edu (April 9, 1976). Retrieved on April 18, 2010; no longer accessible on-line.
  9. Texas Secretary of State, Presidential primary election returns, May 1, 1976.
  10. Texas Secretary of State, General election returns, November 3, 1992.

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