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91-year-old Rep. Ralph Hall ousted in Texas GOP primary

ROCKWALL, Texas — Representative Ralph Hall, at 91 the oldest-ever member of the US House, was ousted Tuesday in the Texas Republican runoff by a candidate half his age.

Backed by powerful national conservative groups, 48-year-old former US attorney John Ratcliffe was able to paint Hall as too cozy with the GOP establishment after 34 years in office. He forced the incumbent into his first runoff in 17 terms in the House, then won it decisively.

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‘‘I just got whipped and got beat,’’ Hall told supporters in his hometown of Rockwall, where he once had a brush with notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde while working in a pharmacy as a boy. He insisted, though, that he wasn’t surprised or sad.

Ratcliffe relied on modern analytics to better target would-be voters, while Hall used more traditional techniques such as direct mailings and chatting with voters by walking through cities and towns. At Hall’s election party Tuesday night, campaign staffers even wrote county-by-county results on butcher paper taped to the wall.

‘‘We really felt optimistic,’’ Ratcliffe said in an interview, even before Hall had called to concede. Ratcliffe said he considered himself an underdog until the polls closed.

Hall first ran for political office in 1950 and won his congressional seat when Jimmy Carter was president.

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