|U.S. Representative from Texas's 26th District|
From: January 3, 1985 – January 3, 2003
|Successor||Michael C. Burgess|
Richard Keith "Dick" Armey (born July 7, 1940 in Cando, Towner County, North Dakota) was a U.S. Representative from Texas' 26th congressional district and served as the House Majority Leader from 1995 through 2003. He shared power with his deputy Tom DeLay. Armey is now a prominent leader in the libertarian anti-tax cause as head of FreedomWorks; he was the prime mover of the anti-tax Tea Party Movement of 2009.
He is known for his sharp mind and uncompromising style, often speaking in a blunt manner that the liberal media have been quick to criticize. For example, as House Majority Leader in 1995 he referred to the openly homosexual congressman Barney Frank as "Barney Fag," setting off a firestorm in the liberal media. Armey said it was simply a verbal slip and apologized, and the issue disappeared.
Armey graduated from Jamestown College, the University of North Dakota and the University of Oklahoma with a Ph.D. in economics. He went on to become a professor of economics at the University of Montana and later North Texas State University.
A Republican, Armey was elected to the House in 1984. He was dubbed a member of the "Texas Six Pack", a group of six freshman Republicans from the state of Texas who were elected that year. After easily winning reelection, Armey sponsored legislation that shut down obsolete military bases, which was supported by congressional Democrats and opposed by the Reagan Defense Department. Armey advocated the privatization of Social Security and the phasing out of farm subsidies. A political ally of Newt Gingrich, Armey was a leader in the 1994 Republican Revolution - where Republicans took control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1954 - and was the main author of the Contract with America. In the 104th Congress, he was elected by his colleagues to serve as Majority Leader. Armey declined to run for reelection in 2002 and became a Washington lobbyist.
Armey built a new base in Washington as a lobbyist and (separately) as head of "FreedomWorks". In 2009 he emerged as the prime mover behind the tea parties.
Armey is a longtime critic of the religious right. He once said that James Dobson of Focus on the Family and his allies were a "gang of thugs" and "real nasty bullies."
Armey and his supporters speak a libertarian language that contrasts sharply with the message of Christian conservatives. "When Republicans are fighting against the power of the state, we win," Armey explained. "When we are trying to advance it, we lose."
- Sokolove, Michael, "Dick Armey Is Back on the Attack," New York Times Magazine Nov. 4, 2009, online