Craig Washington (October 12, 1941-), an African-American congressman in the United States House of Representatives from Texas; born in Longview, Gregg County, Texas on October 12, 1941.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Prairie View A&M University, 1966 Juris Doctor (J.D.), Texas Southern University Law School, 1969 Born to Roy and Azalia Washington; learned to read at three years old. Graduated from Prairie View A&M University in 1966; was originally interested in becoming a doctor, but as admissions to medical school had already ceased, Washington decided to instead apply (on the last day of registration) at Texas Southern University's law school, stay there for the semester, and later reapply to medical school. It turned out to be a fateful decision, as Washington was a natural debator. Washington received the highest grade (amjured) in more than eight of the courses he took in law school.
In 1972, the state of Texas began electing members of the state House of Representatives and State Senate, for the first time, by single-member districts. As a result, many minorities, emboldened by the recent Civil Rights movement and subsequent enacted legislation, sought to forever change the racial makeup of the elected officials in a state which, although already having the legendary Barbara Jordan as a Senate member, had not seen any male African-American statesmen since Reconstruction.
Washington, along with four other minority candidates, Anthony Hall, George "Mickey" Leland, Benny Reyes and Cecil Bush, (dubbed the "People's Five"), ran for seats in the House of Representatives in Texas. Washington was elected, and served as Texas state representative, Rep. District 86, 1973-1982; Texas state senator, Senatorial District 13, 1983-1989; elected as a Democrat to the 101st United States Congress for Texas' 18th Congressional District, by special election, December 9, 1989, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of George T. (Mickey) Leland; reelected to the 102nd United States Congress and 103rd United States Congress and served from December 9, 1989, to January 3, 1995.
In March, 1994, Washington was unsuccessful in his renomination bid to the 104th United States Congress. Shelia Jackson-Lee defeated the incumbent Congressman in the Democratic primary for the 18th Congressional District of Texas; a victory which assured her the seat itself, as the district was overwhelmingly Democratic.
Washington had previously made powerful enemies, namely Houston's downtown power brokers (such as then-Enron Chief Kenneth Lay), by voting against congressional bills favoring NAFTA and NASA because neither, in his judgement, provided anything for his (largely lower-to-middle class minority) constituents.
Irked by what they perceived as Washington's overt and aggressive liberalism, Lay and other conservatives first convinced then Councilwoman Jackson Lee to run against Washington, then put their sizable deep pockets behind her and her campaign, even though she was a Democrat. Her primary victory was guaranteed as many registered Republicans in the district ignored the Republican primary altogether and "crossed-over" to vote in the Democratic primary for Jackson Lee (This tactic has subsequently been used by the Republican Party in numerous elections, most notably in 2000 when Denise Majette was backed by Republican money to oust incumbent Cynthia McKinney from her Congressional seat in Georgia).
Today, Washington practices law out of Houston, Texas and Bastrop, Texas, and enjoys life away from politics with his family and friends, including seven children (Craig II, Chival, Alexander, Cydney, Christoper, Malcolm and Malai) and four grandchildren (Craig III, Cameron, Kristen and Kerri).
Preceded by: unknown Texas Senate, District 13 1983-1989 Succeeded by: Rodney Ellis Preceded by: n/a newly created Texas House of Representatives, District 86 1973-1982 Succeeded by: Larry Q. Evans (district later redistricted as #147