House of Representatives

Texas Rep. Hall, oldest-ever member of US House, ousted in GOP primary runoff

May 27, 2014: Congressman Ralph Hall smiles during a tour of his home in Rockwall, Texas.

May 27, 2014: Congressman Ralph Hall smiles during a tour of his home in Rockwall, Texas.  (AP)

The oldest-ever member of the House of Representatives has been ousted at age 91, after a primary runoff against a little-known Republican challenger in Texas.

Rep. Ralph Hall on Tuesday also became the first congressional incumbent to lose a primary this year. He had told voters if he had been elected to an 18th term, it would be his last.

Hall was defeated by John Ratcliffe, a 48-year-old former U.S. attorney who used modern analytics to better target would-be voters. He also has won the support of powerful national conservative groups with strong Tea Party ties, including the Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund.

Hall, who hails from Rockwell east of Dallas, relied on a more-traditional campaign, using direct mailings and walking the district, interacting with voters and handing out pennies fitted with bands bearing his name. 

Hall was endorsed by Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and leading Christian conservative voice and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. 

Last week, conservative grass-roots superstar U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas praised Hall's courage while presenting him an award for his military service. Hall is the only World War II veteran left in Congress seeking re-election.  

"He's running against my birth certificate," Hall said of Ratcliffe.

That wasn't enough for some. Neville Govender, casting his ballot Tuesday at city hall in the town of Heath, where Ratcliffe was once mayor, said he had never bothered to vote in a congressional election until this year because he knew Hall would win in a rout. 

The 46-year-old said he was excited by Ratcliffe's background working as a U.S. attorney in President George W. Bush's administration.

"I just believe in what he stands for, his energy," Govender said. "I believe we need change."

No Democrat is running, ensuring Ratcliffe will win in November.

The Associated Press contributed to this report