Talmadge Loraine Heflin
Submitted by Billy Hathorn, Class of 1966
Talmadge Loraine Heflin (born ca. 1940) is a former Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives, who represented District 149 in Harris County from 1983 to 2005. In August 2007, he was named the new executive director of the Republican Party of Texas.
Heflin was narrowly defeated for reelection in 2004 by the Democrat Hubert Vo, who is the first person of Vietnamese extraction to serve in the Texas legislature. Vo polled 20,695 votes (50.03 percent) to Heflin's 20,662 (49.96 percent). There was a recount but Vo prevailed. Heflin then failed to unseat Vo in 2006, a strongly Democratic year nationally but not particularly so in Texas. Heflin polled 10,632 votes (45.72 percent), or roughly half his raw vote from 2004, to Vo's 12,621 (54.27 percent) in a lower-turnout election.
At the time of Heflin's appointment to the GOP hierarchy, state party chairman Tina Benkiser, also of Houston, cited his quarter century of experience in the conservative movement, the legislature, and in business. "This background will be invaluable in helping lead the team of political professionals we have assembled who will lead Republicans to victory in 2008," she said.
Between January 1993 and January 2003, when Democrats had majority control of the Texas House, Heflin was the only Republican member to have served on both the Ways and Means and the Appropriations committees. Heflin took over Appropriations in January 2003 and helped to close a $10 billion budget shortfall without raising taxes.
He also served as the chairman of the bipartisan Texas Conservative Coalition from 1989-1992. With his new duties, Heflin will continue to serve as a visiting research fellow at the Center for Fiscal Policy Studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. As the GOP executive director, Heflin succeeds Jeff Fisher, who will remain an advisor to the party.
Heflin was born in tiny Shongaloo north of Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in north Louisiana. In 1959, just out of high school, he wed the former Janice Johnson (born ca. 1941). The couple has a son, Gordon, and two granddaughters, Shawna and Kristy. The Heflins have lived in Alief, a Houston suburb since 1969.
Heflin was employed in petrochemical construction and engineering for twenty-four years, having been a design engineer and a consultant. He is active in community and public service, as a deacon at the Alief First Baptist Church and on the board of trustees of Alief's Independent School District, where he served for seven years. There is an elementary school named for him in Alief.
In 2002, Heflin won his last term in the House. He polled 13,144 votes (55.5 percent) to Democrat Andrew Tran, who received 10,530 (44.5 percent). Tran declined to run again in 2004. Hubert Vo then won the Democratic nomination and defeated Heflin. The district has a significant number of voters of Vietnamese extraction.