Harry Cabluck  /  AP
Sid Smith, 95, one of four Democratic hopefuls seeking nomination to Texas' 10th Congressional District.
updated 3/1/2006 12:09:06 PM ET 2006-03-01T17:09:06

Given his age, Sid Smith's campaign slogan seems obvious: "At 95, who needs term limits?"

The former newspaperman and real estate agent, who scoots around his hillside home with the help of a cane, is running for Congress in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

"I'm the oldest guy in this race," said Smith, joking that his Dec. 24 birthday makes him "one day older than Jesus."

His main goal is to boot from office Republican freshman Michael McCaul, who won the 10th District seat two years ago after the redistricting effort led by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Even at his age, Smith is a political novice. He's never before run for office but wanted to give it a shot before it was too late.

A Democrat whose platform is essentially to work to defeat all Republicans, Smith is adamant about protecting abortion rights.

"I don't think this country should leave to nine old people whose arteries are getting older all the time" the decision of whether a woman can have an abortion, he said.

Four Democrats running for seat
If elected, he would automatically become the oldest member in either chamber of Congress.

West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd is dean of the Senate at 88. In the House, Republican Ralph Hall of Texas tops the list at 82.

He's already outlasted the original "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," movie star Jimmy Stewart, who was born in 1908, two years before Smith, and died in 1997.

Smith is one of four Democrats vying for the seat. The others are Ted Ankrum, 63, a retired government engineer and military veteran; Paul Foreman, 62, a poet and business owner; and Pat Mynatt, 68, a retired emergency room nurse.

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The son of a Ukrainian immigrant father, Smith grew up in St. Louis and graduated from the University of Missouri in 1932, the heart of the Depression. He brags that he's the only candidate who had the pleasure of voting against President Herbert Hoover.

He worked as a reporter for newspapers in Oregon and Illinois. He and his wife, Bert, once owned the now-defunct Coleman Daily Democrat-Voice in Texas before moving to Austin, where he got involved in real estate.

"I won't go through my early life," he said, "You can read my memoirs," which he said he'll write if he's elected.

‘Names begin to escape me’
With a beard and a shock of white hair, Smith is now a widower who peppers his conversations with curse words, telling a reporter "you can clean up my language."

His stories ramble into other stories, which drift into other stories and roll into still more stories, acknowledging "my mind is still fairly good, but names begin to escape me."

Hanging on the wall are photos of him in the annual Capitol 10K foot race, which he started running in his 70s. He still walks it.

Russell Smith said he thought his grandfather was joking when he first mentioned it on a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate his 95th birthday. So it was quite a surprise when Smith announced Jan. 4 at a Rose Bowl party that he had plunked down the $3,125 filing fee two days earlier.

Smith's home serves as campaign headquarters. He doesn't have a Web site, but he has printed bumper stickers, pins and yard signs and wears a "Sid Smith for Congress" T-shirt.

"I wasn't sure he was serious about it," Russell Smith said. "But it really shouldn't surprise us."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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