September 3, 2012 Dick Armey Former US House Representative “The Life & Career of Dick Armey Former US House Representative & House Majority Leader”

Listen to Program. September 3, 2012 Dick Armey Former US House Representative “The Life & Career of Dick Armey Former US House Representative & House Majority Leader.” Richard Keith “Dick” Armey (born July 7, 1940) is a former U.S. Representative from Texas’ 26th congressional district (1985–2003) and House Majority Leader (1995–2003). He was one of the engineers of the “Republican Revolution” of the 1990s, in which Republicans were elected to majorities of both houses of Congress for the first time in four decades. Armey was one of the chief authors of the Contract with America. Armey is also an author and former economics professor. After his congressional career, he worked as a consultant, advisor, and lobbyist. Armey was born in the farming town of Cando, North Dakota, the son of Marion (née Gutschlag) and Glenn Armey. He grew up in a rural area. He graduated from Jamestown College with a B.A. and then received an M.A. from the University of North Dakota and a PhD in economics from the University of Oklahoma. Armey is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Armey served on the economics faculty at the University of Montana from 1964 to 1965, was an Assistant Professor of economics at West Texas State University from 1967 to 1968, an Assistant Professor of economics at Austin College from 1968 to 1972, an Associate Professor of economics at North Texas State (now the University of North Texas) from 1972 to 1977 and Chairman of the economics department at North Texas State from 1977 to 1983. Armey was first elected to the House in 1984 in the 26th District of Texas, defeating freshman congressman Tom Vandergriff in what is still considered a huge upset (Vandergriff is well known in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, most notably for bringing Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers to the area). Armey was one of six freshmen Republican Party congressmen elected from Texas in 1984 that were known as the Texas Six Pack. Due to the increasingly Republican tilt of the Metroplex, Armey would never face another tough race and was reelected eight times. In his early years in Congress, Armey was influenced by libertarian Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises. In the summer of 1997 several House Republicans, who saw Speaker Newt Gingrich’s public image as a liability, attempted to replace him as Speaker. The attempted “coup” began July 9 with a meeting between Republican conference chairman John Boehner of Ohio and Republican leadership chairman Bill Paxon of New York. According to their plan, House Majority Leader Armey, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Boehner and Paxon were to present Gingrich with an ultimatum: resign, or be voted out. However, Armey balked at the proposal to make Paxon the new Speaker, and told his chief of staff to warn Gingrich about the coup. On July 11, Gingrich met with senior Republican leadership to assess the situation. He explained that under no circumstance would he step down. If he was voted out, there would be a new election for Speaker, which would allow for the possibility that Democrats—along with dissenting Republicans—would vote in Dick Gephardt as Speaker. On July 16, Paxon offered to resign his post, feeling that he had not handled the situation correctly, as the only member of the leadership who had been appointed to his position—by Gingrich—instead of elected. After heavy Republican losses in the 1998 elections, Armey had to fend off a bruising challenge for his majority leader post from Steve Largent of Oklahoma, a member of the Republican class of 1994. Although Armey was not popular in the Republican caucus, Largent was thought to be far too conservative for the liking of some moderate Republicans, and Armey won on the third ballot. Soon afterward, Speaker-elect Bob Livingston of Louisiana announced he wouldn’t take the post after the revelation of an extramarital affair, Armey initially seemed to have the inside track to become Speaker. As majority leader, he was the number-two Republican in the chamber. However, he was still badly wounded from Largent’s challenge, and opted not to run. The post eventually went to Chief Deputy Whip Dennis Hastert of Illinois. Armey served another four years before announcing his retirement in 2002. In his last legislative effort, he was named chairman of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security and was the primary sponsor of the legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security. After Armey’s retirement, fellow Texan and Republican Tom DeLay, then House Majority Whip, was elevated to Armey’s Majority Leader position. Armey’s son, Scott, ran for his father’s seat in the 2002 election, but lost in the Republican Party (GOP) runoff to Michael C. Burgess, who would go on to hold the strongly Republican 26th District for the GOP in November.

In 2003, Armey became co-chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy, which in 2004 merged with Empower America to become FreedomWorks. “FreedomWorks” is a common Armey saying and the organization is dedicated to advancing a “Freedom Agenda” of “lower taxes, less government, and more freedom.” FreedomWorks states that it has 700,000 members nationwide and full-time staff in 10 states. In his role as Chairman, Armey continues to be a national political figure and grassroots leader. He travels widely, meeting with activists and legislators. In 2005, for example, he testified before the President’s Advisory Panel on Tax Reform and debated Governor of Colorado Bill Owens on a tax increase ballot measure.

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