E L Short

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E L Short​

Texas State Representative for
District 73 (Andrews, Dawson, Gaines, Lynn, Martin, and Terry counties)​
In office
August 11, 1969​ – January 1979​
Preceded by Randy Pendleton
Succeeded by Jim Rudd​

Texas State Senator for Andrews, Borden, Cochran, Crosby, Dawson, Ector, Gaines, Garza, Lubbock, Lynn, Martin, Terry, and Yoakum counties.​
In office
1979​ – 1983​
Preceded by Kent Hance​
Succeeded by John T. Montford​

Born October 2, 1925​
Grassland, Texas, USA
Died June 24, 2015 (aged 89)​
Tahoka, Lynn County, Texas​
Resting place Texas State Cemetery at Austin
Nationality American
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican
Spouse(s) Ernestine Fortenberry Short (married 1947)​
Children Vivian Bruns​

Patti Kilpatrick
​ Robin Taylor
​ Leah Taylor ​

Residence Tahoka, Texas​
Alma mater Tahoka High School

Texas A&M University

Occupation Farmer; Rancher


Religion United Methodist

E L Short (October 2, 1925 – June 24, 2015) was a farmer, rancher, and businessman from Tahoka in Lynn County, Texas, who was a Democratic member of both houses of the Texas State Legislature between 1969 and 1983.[1]


Short (the E L stands for nothing) was born in the Grassland community in Lynn County to Cleburne E. "Bert" Short (1897–1980), a farmer originally from Greenville in Hunt County northeast of Dallas, and the former Eva Lena McCord (1900–1989). In 1943, Short graduated from Tahoka High School and attended Texas A&M University in College Station for a semester before he enlisted in the United States Navy in 1944.[1] He was stationed on the California coast and then dispatched to mainland China. After the war, he attended several more semesters at Texas A&M.[2]

In 1947, Short wed the former Ernestine "Dink" Fortenberry (born January 27, 1929), a native of Dawson County, Texas. There are four Short daughters, Vivian Bruns of Sierra Vista, Arizona, Patti Kilpatrick of Brownwood in Brown County, Texas, Robin Taylor of Brownfield in Terry County, Texas, and Leah Taylor of Tahoka. Except as in-laws, the husbands of Robin and Leah Taylor are otherwise unrelated. Short is United Methodist.[2] He died in Tahoka on June 24, 2015.[1]​ ​

State Representative

Short was elected to the Texas House of Representatives from then District 73 in a special election runoff contest held on August 8, 1969, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation on June 30 of Democrat Randall George Pendleton, then of Andrews. Nine candidates had entered the first round of balloting on July 22.[3] Pendleton accepted appointment from Governor Preston Smith as the director of State and Federal Relations in Washington, D.C.[4]

Short held the House seat for ten years and for a time chaired the Inter-Government Affairs Committee. In 1975, he garnered statewide attention by focusing on the deadly hazards of hydrogen sulfide following an explosion of the gas in Denver City in Yoakum and Gaines counties in his district. Short endorsed an investigation by the Texas Railroad Commission and urged that residents be warned "by knocking on doors if necessary" of the imminent danger stemming from the gas. Often one dies from the second inhalation of the gas, and a warning itself may be too late.[5]​ ​

State senator

​ In 1978, Short was elected state senator to succeed Kent Hance of Dimmitt in Castro County, who was elected to the United States House of Representatives to fill the seat vacated by the retiring George Herman Mahon (1900-1985) of Lubbock. Hance, then a Democrat, defeated the Republican candidate, George W. Bush, who had beaten Jim Reese, the former mayor of Odessa, in a runoff election.[6] Meanwhile, Short's House seat was won by the Democrat Jim Rudd of Brownfield.

Short was appointed by then Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby, the presiding officer of the state Senate, to serve on the Finance Committee. Short worked to increase funding for the nursing school at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He pushed for passage of bills to require cotton buyers to register with the state and to permit oversized modular trucks hauling cotton to be ginned to continue using the highways, as such operations are seasonal in nature. He was the vice chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and in the 1981 legislative session worked to thwart passage of seven land-use bills.[2]

Texas Monthly magazine named Short to the list of the "Ten Worst Legislators" in the 1981 session. Others negatively cited were DemocratCarlos Truan of Corpus Christi and Republican John Leedom of Dallas, the author of the "Texas Rainy Day Fund." Rated among the best in 1981 were future U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett of Austin, one of the Senate's more liberal members, Speaker Bill W. Clayton of Springlake in Lamb County, and Ray Farabee of Wichita Falls, all Democrats.[7] The magazine said that Short repeatedly told colleagues that he would support their pending legislation but failed to follow through. Texas Monthly said that Short was "without malice or guile" and might make a good alderman in Tahoka but was unsuited for legislative business.[7]

After a term in the Senate, Short was narrowly unseated in the 1982 Democratic primary by John T. Montford, then the district attorney of Lubbock County. Short carried twelve of the fourteen counties in the district, losing only Lubbock and Borden, a small rural county. Montford then defeated Jim Reese, the unsuccessful Republican congressional candidate from both 1976 and 1978.[8] Short speculates that he would have defeated Montford had rains not suppressed the Ector County turnout, which was extremely low that year, and had not some conservatives in Odessa voted instead in the Republican primary, which then had a relatively small rate of participation. Though Short had worked successfully on the Senate Finance Committee to obtain funding for the Odessa branch of the Texas Tech Medical School, his effort did not yield the political dividend in the primary that he had contemplated.[2]​ ​ In the Montford-Reese general election contest, Short endorsed neither candidate.[2] Short, considered a conservative Democrat, later switched affiliation to the GOP but after his time in elective politics had passed. In 2001, he donated $1,000 to the Republican National Committee.[9]​ ​


Former State Representative Delwin Jones of Lubbock, who served in the House with Short in the early 1970s, described his friend as an advocate for rural and agricultural issues: "This is back in the day when we had a strong West Texas voice in Austin and he was a good one."[1] Former U.S. Representative Kent Hance said that “No one worked harder for his constituents than E L Short. He spent hours upon hours researching any issues a constituent in his district had."[1]

Former House Speaker James E. "Pete" Laney of Hale Center eulogized Short at the former lawmaker's funeral at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin on June 29.[1]​ ​An exhibit with some of Short's political memorabilia is available at the Garza County (Texas) Historical Museum in the small city of Post, Texas.​


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Adam D. Young (June 26, 2015). Former South Plains state lawmaker Short remembered as strong voice for West Texas. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on June 28, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Statement of E L Short of Tahoka, Texas, November 18, December 14, 2010.
  3. Members of the 60th Legislature: Randy Pendleton. lrl.state.tx.us. Retrieved on December 17, 2010.
  4. Randall Pendleton. cemetery.state.tx.us. Retrieved on December 14, 2010.
  5. Howard Swindle (June 1975). "The Deadly Smell of Success". Texas Monthly. Retrieved on December 14, 2010. 
  6. State of Texas, 1978 election returns.
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Best and Worst Legislators since 1973. texasmonthly.com. Retrieved on December 14, 2010.
  8. Billy Hathorn, "Mayor Jim Reese of Odessa and the Republican Party in the Permian Basin," The West Texas Historical Association Year Book (now known as West Texas Historical Review), Vol. LXXXVII (October 2011), p. 141.
  9. [​http://www.city-data.com/elec2/elec-TAHOKA-TX.html Tahoka, Texas Political Contributions by Individuals]. city-data.com. Retrieved on September 18, 2019.