Southern Baptist contingent in Congress grows

By Anne Reiner
Nov 12, 2012

Southern Baptist representation in Congress increased in the latest election — its highest number in recent history.

Each Southern Baptist up for re-election in the Senate and House of Representatives held his seat Nov. 6. In addition, five members of Southern Baptist churches won races as non-incumbents.

Five Southern Baptists joined the House of Representatives, bringing the total to 35. One Southern Baptist church member gained election to the Senate, making the total six.

The number of Southern Baptist representatives appears to be a record — based on a review of election results since 1994, when a surge of Southern Baptist and other evangelical Christian candidates for Congress began. That total of House members, coupled with the number of senators, seemingly would add up to the largest Southern Baptist contingent ever in Congress.

Baptist Press has learned the following members of Southern Baptist churches will be freshmen in the new congressional session that begins in January, but there may be others yet to be reported:

  • In the Senate, Ted Cruz, a Republican and a member of Second Baptist Church, Houston, will represent Texas. He defeated Democrat Paul Sadler by about 57-40 percent. Cruz served from 2003-08 as Texas’ solicitor general, the state’s chief lawyer before federal courts.
  • In the House, Doug Collins, a Republican and a member of Lakewood Baptist Church, Lakewood, Ga., defeated Democrat Jody Cooley by a 76-24 percent margin in Georgia’s Ninth Congressional District. Collins serves as a chaplain in the United States Air Force Reserves.
  • George Holding, a Republican and a member of Christ Baptist Church, Raleigh, defeated Democrat Charles Malone by 57-43 percent in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District. Holding is a former U.S. attorney.
  • Jim Bridenstine, a Republican and a member of South Tulsa Baptist Church, Tulsa, defeated Democrat John Olson by a 63-33 percent margin in Oklahoma’s First Congressional District. Bridenstine is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves.
  • Randy Weber, a Republican and member of First Baptist Church, Pearland, Texas, replaced Ron Paul by defeating Nick Lampson by 53-45 percent in Texas’ 14th Congressional District.
  • Steve Stockman, a Republican, will return to Congress after several terms out of the House. Stockman, a member of First Baptist Church, Houston, defeated Democrat Max Martin by 71-26 percent. Stockman gained election to the House in 1994, defeating 42-year veteran Congressman Jack Brooks. He lost to Lampson, however, in 1996.

Following is a list, as compiled by Baptist Press, of the ballot results for members of Southern Baptist churches who sought re-election to Congress. (The vote totals are from CNN’s website. The number of precincts reporting varied from 89 to 95 percent. Some races had more than two candidates on the ballot, but only the top two finishers are included.)

SENATE

Mississippi: Sen. Roger Wicker, Republican, seeking second term, First Baptist Church, Tupelo, defeated Albert Gore, Democrat, 665,191-468,997, 57-40 percent.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Alabama: Rep. Spencer Bachus, R., Sixth District, seeking 11th term, Hunter Street BC, Hoover, defeated Penny Bailey, D., 215,966-86,698, 71-29 percent.

Arizona: Rep. Trent Franks, R., Second District, seeking sixth term, North Phoenix BC, Phoenix, defeated Gene Scharer, D., 127,535-69,190, 64-35 percent.

Arkansas: Rep. Rick Crawford, R., First District, seeking second term, Nettleton BC, Jonesboro, defeated Scott Ellington, D., 137,659-95,243, 56-39 percent. Rep. Tim Griffin, R., Second District, seeking second term, Immanuel BC, Little Rock, defeated Herb Rule, D., 157,978-112,934, 55-39 percent. Rep. Steve Womack, R., Third District, seeking second term, Cross Church, Pinnacle Hills, had no major party opposition, according to CNN.

Florida: Steve Southerland, R., Second District, seeking second term, Northstar Church, Panama City, defeated Al Lawson, D., 174,898-156,307, 53-47 percent. Rep. Daniel Webster, R., 10th District, seeking second term, First Baptist Church of Central Florida, defeated Val Demings, D., 164,520-153,155, 52-48 percent. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R., 13th District, seeking fifth term, First BC, Sarasota, defeated Keith Fitzgerald, D., 186,743-161,379, 54-46 percent.

Georgia: Rep. Lynn Westmorland, R., Third District, seeking fifth term, Orchard Hills Baptist Church, Newnan, had no major party opposition, according to CNN. Rep. Austin Scott, R., Eighth District, seeking second term, First BC, Tifton, had no major party opposition, according to CNN. Paul Broun, R., 10th District, seeking fourth term, Prince Avenue BC, Bogart, had no major party opposition, according to CNN. Rep. Tom Graves, R., 14th District, seeking second term, Belmont BC, Calhoun, defeated Daniel Grant, D., 159,698-59,098, 73-27 percent.

Indiana: Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R., Third District, seeking second term, Community BC, South Bend, defeated Kevin Boyd, 187,610-92,179, 67-33 percent.

Kentucky: Rep. Harold Rogers, R., Fifth District, seeking 17th term, First BC, Somerset, defeated Kenneth Stepp, D., 194,451-54,166, 78-22 percent.

Louisiana: Rep. John Fleming, R., Fourth District, seeking third term, First BC, Minden, had no major party opposition, according to CNN. Rep. Rodney Alexander, Fifth District, seeking sixth term, Sweetwater BC, Quitman, had no major party opposition, according to CNN.

Mississippi: Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R., First District, seeking second term, Calvary BC, Tupelo, defeated Brad Morris, D., 178,594-107,938, 60-37 percent. Rep. Gregg Harper, R., Third District, seeking third term, Crossgates BC, Brandon, had no major party opposition, according to CNN.

Missouri: Rep. Sam Graves, R., Sixth District, seeking seventh term, First BC, Tarkio, defeated Kyle Yarber, D., 216,721-108,414, 56-33 percent.

New Mexico: Rep. Steve Pearce, R., Second District, seeking fifth term, Taylor Memorial BC, Hobbs, defeated Evelyn Erhard, D., 132,250-91,560, 59-41 percent.

Oklahoma: Rep. Frank Lucas, R., Third District, seeking 11th term, First BC, Cheyenne, defeated Timothy Murray, D., 200,963-53,295, 75-20 percent. Rep. James Lankford, R., Fifth District, seeking second term, Quail Springs BC, Oklahoma City, defeated Tom Guild, D., 153,421-97,359, 59-37 percent.

South Carolina: Jeff Duncan, R., Third District, seeking second term, First BC, Clinton, defeated Brian Doyle, D., 168780-84,312, 67-33 percent. Rep. Trey Gowdy, Fourth District, seeking second term, First BC, Spartanburg, defeated Deb Morrow, D., 168,780-84,312, 67-33 percent.

Texas: Rep. Louie Gohmert, R., First District, seeking fifth term, Green Acres BC, Tyler, defeated Shirley McKellar, D., 182,621-67,758, 72-26 percent. Rep. Al Green, D., Ninth District, seeking fifth term, Cullen Missionary BC, Houston, defeated Steve Mueller, R., 143,850-36,073, 78-20 percent. Rep. Mike Conaway, R., 11th District, seeking fifth term, First BC, Midland, defeated Jim Riley, D., 177,166-41,842, 79-18 percent. Rep. Bill Flores, R., 17th District, seeking second term, Central BC, Bryan, had no major party opposition, according to CNN. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R., 19th District, seeking sixth term, First BC, Lubbock, had no major party opposition, according to CNN.

Virginia: Rep. Randy Forbes, R., Fourth District, seeking sixth term, Great Bridge BC, Chesapeake, defeated Ella Ward, D., 198,081-148,802, 57-43 percent.

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press here on November 9, 2012.

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