Pete Laney

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James Earl "Pete" Laney
Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives
In office
Preceded byGib Lewis
Succeeded byTom Craddick
Member of the Texas House of Representatives from Hale County (districts vary)
In office
Preceded byDelwin Jones (District 76)
Succeeded byJoseph P. Heflin (District 85)
Personal details
Born (1943-03-20) March 20, 1943 (age 76)
Plainview, Hale County
Texas, USA
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Nelda McQuien Laney
ChildrenKaLyn Laney

James Kay (Jamey) Laney Phillips

J Pete Laney
ParentsWilber G. and Frances L. Wilson Laney
ResidenceHale Center, Hale County
Alma materTexas Tech University
OccupationFarmer, businessman

James Earl Laney, known as Pete Laney (born March 20, 1943), is a U. S. Democratic Party politician from West Texas. He was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1973 to 2007. A resident of Hale Center, near Plainview in Hale County, Laney served as House Speaker from 1993 to 2003, a record matching that set by his predecessor, fellow Democrat Gib Lewis of Fort Worth, whose tenure as Speaker extended from 1983 to 1993.

Political life[edit]

During his tenure, Laney was widely praised[1] for demonstrating principle, integrity, and character in his leadership of the House. He was cited by Republican Governor George W. Bush, during the 2000 presidential campaign, as a model of legislative bipartisan co-operation. As speaker, Laney "foster[ed] a bipartisan atmosphere for legislators to work together with mutual respect and place public needs ahead of personal interests and partisan politics."[2]

Lewis triggered a speaker's race in 1991 when he announced, amid allegations of accepting an illegal gift from a law firm, that he would not seek re-election as speaker in 1993. Laney announced in November 1992 that he had secured the pledges of more than eighty of his colleagues to elect him speaker.[3] In his first term as speaker, Laney "ran the fairest, cleanest, most open, most democratic House in memory".[4] He was named by Texas Monthly magazine as one of the "Top Ten" legislators of the Seventy-third Texas Legislature.[5]

Laney's tenure as speaker ended after the 2002 elections, when the GOP gained a majority in the Texas House for the first time since Reconstruction, and Tom Craddick of Midland was elected the first Republican speaker since 1871. Craddick served in the presiding post from 2003 to 2009. When Craddick undertook an unprecedented mid-decade congressional redistricting, Laney joined fellow Democrats who traveled to Ardmore, Oklahoma, to block consideration of the Republicans' bill by denying the House a quorum.

In December 2005, Laney announced he would not seek re-election in 2006 to the House in which he had served continuously since 1973. No longer speaker, Laney was still re-elected in 2004 by defeating his Republican opponent with almost 59 percent of the vote in a district otherwise carried by the second President Bush with 76 percent of the vote.[6] In 2006, Democrats retained Laney's seat in a hard-fought general election won by former Crosby County Judge Joseph P. Heflin, who defeated Jim Landtroop of Plainview. Landtroop had also opposed Laney in 2004. From 2007 to 2011, the district was the only Panhandle-area legislative seat held by a Democrat. Then Landtroop staged a comeback in 2010 and unseated Heflin but held the seat only for one term.

Personal life[edit]

Laney was born in Plainview to Wilber G. Laney (1918–2005) and the former Frances L. Wilson (1921–2000). He married the former Nelda Kay McQuien (1943-2016). They have three children[7] and six grandchildren.[8]


  1. ^ Yardley, Jim (2001-12-30). "Once-Heralded Bipartisanship Fades in Texas House". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  2. ^ Texas Legislative Council Research Division, Presiding Officers of the Texas Legislature: 1846-2002 7 (Texas Legis. Council 2002).
  3. ^ "Laney Says He's Got Speaker Votes", Houston Chronicle, November 10, 1992.
  4. ^ "The Best and Worst Legislators 1993". Texas Monthly. 1993-06-30. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  5. ^ Paul Burka and Patricia Kilday Hart, "The Best and Worst Legislators 1993", Texas Monthly, July 1993. Accessed February 21, 2006
  6. ^ "HISTORICAL ELECTIONS - OFFICIAL RESULTS". Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  7. ^ Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997.
  8. ^ Austin, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, UT (2008-11-26). "Pete Laney Biography - Texas House Speakers Oral History - Projects". Retrieved 2018-03-28.
Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
76-1: Delwin Jones
76-2: Elmer Tarbox
76-3: R. B. McAlister
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 76 (Hale Center)

Succeeded by
Tom Craddick
Preceded by
Al Edwards
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 85 (Hale Center)

Succeeded by
Joseph P. Heflin
Political offices
Preceded by
Gib Lewis
Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Tom Craddick