Charlie Stenholm, the pride of Stamford, Texas, former congressman, rural advocate, and good friend of The 134 PAC, passed away yesterday at his home in Granbury Texas. Charlie served 27 years in Congress representing the 19th Congressional District. He served under five presidents, and many of the legends of Congress in the late 20th century. Charlie was one of the good guys. He will be sorely missed.
Charlie came of age when the politics of Texas were very different. The Democratic Party held the kind of power 21st century Texas Democrats can only dream about, or look back on wistfully. As the politics of the state became more Republican, Charlie never switched parties, and stayed true to his political convictions his whole life, even when it cost him his seat in Congress.
I first encountered Charlie when I became the Democratic County Chair of Tom Green County, Texas. He was the very first elected official who reached out to me to congratulate me and offer his support. Tom Green County returned the favor, providing the margin of victory that reelected him to Congress in 1994, when so many Democrats in Congress went home, during what some of us call, Newt Gingrich's infamous "Contract on America". He was able to hold on until 2005 when Republican redistricting did him in thanks to Tom DeLay and the now heavily Republican Texas Legislature.
I reengaged with Charlie when I made a run for Congress in 2020 and was soundly defeated in the 80/20 21st Congressional District. Since then he has been a constant friend and supporter of everything The 134 PAC has stood for and done. I emailed with him just last week about his favorite cause, the elimination of partisan gerrymandering. He had personal experience with that. I left a message for him yesterday, not knowing of his passing. I am sad that I missed my last chance to learn from his wisdom.
Charlie was so much more than a politician. He was a gentleman and a friend to all who knew him. Most of all, he never quit or backed down from a fight. He epitomized the words of another Democratic Congressman who also got tossed out for doing the right thing.
"Be sure you are right, then go ahead." - Davy Crockett
What he would not want is for The 134 PAC and rural Democrats to give up the fight, even though things seem so dark right now for people who are nonpartisan, bipartisan, reasonable, and promote compromise. Rather, with his passing, it is for us to rededicate ourselves to the work of The 134 PAC, to fight for rural Texas, take up his baton of ending partisan gerrymandering as our own. I hope you will join me.
Jon Mark Hogg is a San Angelo lawyer, rural advocate, and Co-Founder of The 134 PAC