From Texas Political Almanac
Who & Where
(from Politics in America 2012)
Starting in Burnet County in the center of the state, the still mainly white and Republican 11th is characterized by stark plains, mesas and oil rigs. It slices from west of Austin to the New Mexico border, taking in San Angelo, Midland, Odessa and vast stretches of rural land.
In the west lies oil country and the Permian Basin, home to Midland and Odessa. Odessa's economy still relies heavily on petroleum, and the traditional oil and gas sector has rebounded after several years of job cuts. The city has become a regional telecommunications and distribution hub and also has seen growing interest in "green" development and alternative energy production.
While the western portion of the 11th is mostly high desert plains, the southeastern section moved into the highland lakes region, taking in part of the state's hill country. Here, agriculture dominates, with cotton, row crops, cattle, sheep, goats, and small grains key to the economy. This region also is popular with hunters, and tourism has grown at the area's resorts and lakes.
A growing Hispanic population now makes up more than one-third of the district, and immigration continues to be an issue throughout the region as illegal workers still play a heavy role in the oil and agricultural industries. The 11th also has the state's highest percentage of residents over age 64 (15%) due to a relatively inexpensive cost of living and good area health care. Improving transportation routes is also a priority for the district, as it is for much of West Texas.
(from Politics in America 2012)
Once an accountant, Conaway is a small-government conservative often enlisted by Republican leaders to lend his expertise in matters of federal spending practices. While he champions fiscal restraint, as long as the money is flowing he will work to steer dollars to his district's farmers.
He chairs the Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management in the 112th Congress (2011-12), a panel with jurisdiction over programs for cotton, wheat, corn, soybeans and other crops.
But it was in response to a bipartisan effort in 2010 to end federal subsidies for the production of mohair, a fabric made from the coats of Angora goats, that Conaway vocally leapt to the defense of his constituents.
"(The mohair subsidy) fits in with the overall safety net for agriculture. We need to be able to feed ourselves and clothe ourselves," said Conaway, whose district is home to the Mohair Council of America.
He opposes attempts to impose a federal ban on the use of antibiotics in livestock feed. Conaway argues that no scientific evidence shows a clear link between such use of antibiotics and an increased resistance to antibiotics among humans.
Immigrant labor is important to his district's farmers, and Conaway in the past has backed a limited immigration policy overhaul that would have allowed illegl immigrants to register as temporary workers, but without the possibility of becoming citizens.
In 2007, he attached an amendment to an omnibus spending bill that provided $5 billion to eradicate weeds along the banks of the Rio Grande. Illegal immigrants used the weeds for cover, Conaway said - and besides, he added, the weeds suck up water from the dwindling river. :If the weeds were removed, the Rio Grande would be stronger and harder to cross," he said.
He applies a consistent standard of fiscal discipline as a member of the Armed Services Committee.
"We must not allow bureaucrats inside the Pentagon to continue to make critical financial decisions using outdated and cumbersome financial management systems," Conaway wrote in a Roll Call op-ed in March 2011.
He was tapped in 2009 as the top Republican on a panel charged with studying the Defense Department's problems in acquiring goods and services on time and on budget.
Conaway has been called on for other non-legislative tasks as well. He was named to a 22-member GOP transition team as the party prepared to take over the House in the 112th Congress. During the 110th Congress (2007-2008), he headed an internal audit team for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP's campaign arm. After the committee's treasurer, Christopher Ward, repeatedly cancelled meetings with him, Conaway investigated and found Ward had been preparing false financial statements for years. The embezzlement was estimated at $725,000.
Conaway is among the most loyal Republicans in the House. A member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, he voted with his party on 99 percent of the votes that pitted a majority of Republicans against a majority of Democrats in the 111th Congress (2009-10).
The former accountant opposed President Obama's economic initiatives, including a $787 billion economic stimulus law, an expansion of a children's health insurance program and the health care overhaul. He also opposed a fiscal 2009 omnibus spending bill while touting the more than $14.5 million in earmarks - special funding set-asides for projects in members' districts - he helped obtain, including $1.7 million for the International Cotton Center to support research into "increasing the profitability and sustainability of cotton and other natural fiber production."
He pushes for expanded oil and gas production. Conaway was once a "roughneck" - a worker on a drilling rig - and from 1981 to 1986 was chief financial officer of and an investor in Arbusto Energy Inc. (later Bush Exploration), a Midland-based energy company owned by George W. Bush.
Conaway is a member of the Select Intelligence Committee, where he also practices his accounting trade: In July 2010 he asked the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure that the intelligence community receive a clean financial audit. "The intelligence community, which has grown substantially in size and budget since 9/11, is currently unable to satisfactorily account for the tax dollars, which it is given to protect the very individuals that provide that money," he wrote to OMB.
In 2009 he picked up a seat on the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (now the Ethics Committee), where he was named to a special subcommittee to conduct a public trial of former Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat.
As a youth, Conaway played defensive end and offensive tackle on Odessa Permian High School's first state championship football team. He won a football scholarship after graduating, but of his limited college football career, he said, "I didn't play a lot on Saturdays."
He was a pre-law major in college, but a professor persuaded him to switch to accounting. He received his degree from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University - Commerce) in 1970. He was a military police officer at the Army's Fort Hood in Texas, then worked for Price Waterhouse & Co., settling in Midland. After working in the energy industry, he opened his own accounting firm in 1993.
When Bush was in his first year as governor of Texas, he appointed Conaway to the state Board of Public Accountancy, where Conaway served for seven years. He also is an ordained deacon in the Baptist Church.
His first elected office was a seat on the Midland school board. In 2003, he lost a House special election in the 19th District by 587 votes to fellow Republican Randy Neugebauer. A GOP-inspired congressional redistricting allowed Conaway to breeze to victory in 2004 in the new 11th while Neugebauer moved to the 19th District. He faced no major party opposition in 2006 and 2008 and took 81 percent of the vote in 2010.
Population & Demographics
|Total Pop.||18+ Pop.||CVAP|
2012 Election Analysis
385,845 Registered Voters
78,757 Spanish-Surnamed Registered Voters
232,349 Total Ballots
|Contest||Rep. Candidate||R-%||Dem. Candidate||D-%|
|U.S. President||Mitt Romney||79.1%||Barack Obama||19.5%|
|U.S. Senate||Ted Cruz||77.3%||Paul Sadler||19.9%|
|U.S. Congress||Mike Conaway||78.6%||Jim Riley||18.6%|
|RR Commish||Christi Craddick||76.4%||Dale Henry||19.8%|
|Supreme Court||Nathan Hecht||73.8%||Michele Petty||21.5%|
|Crt. of Criminal Appeals||Sharon Keller||75.7%||Keith Hampton||20.7%|
2010 Election Analysis
395,682 Registered Voters
78,216 Spanish-Surnamed Registered Voters
155,016 Total Ballots
|Contest||Rep. Candidate||R-%||Dem. Candidate||D-%|
|Governor||Rick Perry||72.6%||Bill White||23.9%|
|Lt. Governor||David Dewhurst||79.7%||Linda Chavez-Thompson||16.8%|
|Attorney General||Greg Abbott||81.9%||Barbara Radnofsky||15.7%|
|Land Commish||Jerry Patterson||79.7%||Hector Uribe||16.9%|
|Ag. Commish||Todd Staples||78.0%||Hank Gilbert||18.2%|
|RR Commish||David Porter||77.2%||Jeff Weems||18.4%|
|Supreme Court||Debra Lehrmann||75.6%||Jim Sharp||21.1%|
|Supreme Court||Paul Green||77.4%||Bill Moody||19.2%|
|Supreme Court||Eva Guzman||75.4%||Blake Bailey||19.3%|
|Crt. of Criminal Appeals||Michael Keasler||78.1%||Keith Hampton||18.8%|
- Plan C235 - Congressional District 11 - plan under which 2012 elections were held
- Plan C220 - Congressional District 11 - San Antonio court's original interim plan
- Plan C185 - Congressional District 11 - plan passed by 82nd legislature
- Congressional District 11 - 2003 Map - Election History (2002-2010) and District Map
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