The 1942 midterms were not good for President Roosevelt. The war effort didn’t look like it was going well at the time and as a result gains were made by his opponents. More Republicans were elected, Southern Democrats who were growing more conservative stayed in office, and more conservative Southern Democrats were succeeding more moderate ones. This was the case with San Angelo attorney Ovie Clark (O.C.) Fisher (1903-1994).
Fisher was from his very first session a conservative, scoring an 82% on the MC-Index in the 78th Congress. His lifetime score was about the same at an 83%. Fisher was one of the most accommodating Democrats to the Republican 80th Congress which like with Roosevelt, overrode President Truman’s vetoes on labor and tax legislation. He opposed the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier, and the Great Society. Fisher did back some Democratic legislation, such as farm price supports, but this wasn’t out of step with Texas Democrats. He was with John Dowdy, Omar Burleson, and Joe Pool among the most conservative Democrats in the Texas delegation in the 1960s. Although LBJ could count on support for key initiatives from many Texas Democrats including those of more conservative persuasions, Fisher was not among them. His legend status aside from him making the thirty year mark of service more stems from him being a part of Texas politics moving to the right than anything else. Fisher was also one of five Texas Democrats to sign the Southern Manifesto in opposition to Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and school desegregation in 1956. Indeed, he opposed all civil rights legislation during the 1950s and 1960s. Fisher’s major accomplishments involved providing for his own district, notably funding for the San Angelo Dam, which is now named after him.
In 1972, he won reelection but with only about 57% of the vote. Despite Fisher’s conservative reputation, his district was moving more and more to the GOP and this was showing in Congressional elections. In 1973, he had to have heart surgery and subsequently announced his retirement. The Democrats were fortunate in this case to have the Watergate scandal going on as well as a capable candidate in Bob Krueger for 1974. This held off Republican takeover of the district until 1978, when Republican Tom Loeffler won the seat. The district has elected Republicans since; its current representative is Chip Roy, one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress. Fisher continued to be active in conservative causes, and as late as 1980 he was on the board of trustees of Americans for Constitutional Action. He also wrote many books, including Cactus Jack in 1978, a biography of fellow Texas Legend John Nance Garner.
P.S.: I am on vacation next week and I will be taking that week off from posting. Thus, I will be posting three more entries before Saturday to satisfy self-imposed deadlines.
Craycraft, C. (1980, February 25). Letter to Howard Phillips. Americans for Constitutional Action.
Leatherwood, A. Fisher, Ovie Clark. Handbook of Texas.
Surgery for Congressman. (1973, June 27). The New York Times.