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CORRESPONDENT

Remembering Ex-Rep. Terry Everett, R.-Ala:  Trump-Like Long Before Trump

terry everret
Rep. Terry Everett, R-Ala., in November 1993. (Photo by Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

John Gizzi By Monday, 15 April 2024 08:14 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Although Terry Everett had been out of the public eye since his retirement from Congress in 2008, the onetime newspaper tycoon and leader in the construction and banking businesses was well remembered following his death on March 12.

Everett, who was 87, was, in effect, Donald Trump well before Trump himself got into politics.

"Like President Trump, Terry was an entrepreneur who never held political office before he decided to run for Congress in 1992 — something almost unheard of in Alabama politics," said former State Rep. Perry Hooper, Jr., a leader of the Trump campaign in the Yellowhammer State since 2016.

Hooper added that Everett "paved the way for future leaders who believe the status quo is never good enough when it comes to serving the American people."

In 1992, Republican Rep. Bill Dickinson announced his retirement from the Montgomery-area U.S. House seat he had represented for 28 years. Smart money had it that State Sen. Larry Dixon, an "establishment Republican" from the wealthy Mountain Brook part of the district would carry the GOP banner and would face Democrat George C. Wallace, Jr., state treasurer and namesake-son of Alabama's former four-term governor and three-time presidential candidate.

But the smart money had not reckoned with Terry Everett, who had started and sold a chain of weekly newspapers and then went on to own and run the Premium Homebuilders Construction Company and serve as president of the Dothan Federal Savings Bank.

Deploying his own wealth and styling himself an outsider fighting the Montgomery "establishment," Everett surprised even supporters by rolling up 58 percent against the much-favored Dixon. In November, he again rolled up big margins outside Montgomery and edged the better-known Wallace by about 3,500 votes (earning 51 percent of the vote). He would never have a competitive contest again.

Rated the highest (83 percent) of any Alabama congressman by the American Conservative Union, Everett started the Peanut Caucus of lawmakers from districts where peanut farmers were in abundance and crafted a program to buy back from peanut farmers after Congress stopped passing subsidies. This buyback program, not unlike those for dairy and tobacco farmers, proved a blessing for peanut farmers who had depended on federal subsidies.

Everett also championed the Freedom to Farm bill — officially, the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, which simplified payment programs for crops and ended federal support for milk altogether. The federal system of price supports and subsidies for many agricultural products had been denounced by then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, as "Moscow on the Mississippi" and Everett and most conservatives.

The Alabamian co-sponsored a measure to get the U.S. out the United Nations, and opposed extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because, in his words, "states like Alabama continue to be punished for wrongs committed 40 years ago …"

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Everett served as chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces and took the lead on advocating for a U.S. Space Force and developing a space-based national security policy.

He may be best-remembered for his chairmanship of the House Veterans Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Under Everett's aegis, it was revealed in 1997 that the late M. Larry Lawrence, multimillionaire hotelier, major Democrat contributor, and ambassador to Switzerland, had secured a burial waiver at Arlington National Cemetery that he did not deserve.

It turned out, Everett's panel concluded, that there was no record — as Lawrence had long claimed — he had served in the U.S. Merchant Marine in World War II or was on the ship USS Horace Bushnell when it was torpedoed.

"They opened the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier," went a popular contemporaneous joke, "and they found Larry Lawrence."

Amid the revelations, Lawrence's widow requested his body be disinterred and reburied on the West Coast.

The son of a Dothan, Alabama, coal miner, young Terry Everett joined the Air Force at 18 and, for four years worked as an intelligence analyst dealing with reconnaissance flights such as those by the surveillance aircraft U-2.

Following his discharge in 1959, Everett went immediately into his early passion of journalism and became a reporter for the Dothan Eagle. Not satisfied with simply reporting the news, he managed to purchase and then publish and edit the Graceville News and the Hartford News Herald. Before long, he started two more weeklies and his Gulf Coast Media Company oversaw fifteen weeklies and dailies.

In all of his business, community, and political endeavors, Everett was accompanied and advised by his beloved wife Barbara. The two were inseparable and, after a week in Washington, D.C., that included a packed social schedule by night, the Everetts would almost always head home on weekends and be seen at Rehobeth Baptist Church in Dothan (where Terry frequently taught Sunday School).

John F. Kennedy famously said "One person can make a difference and everyone should try."

Terry Everett tried and did.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


John-Gizzi
Although Terry Everett had been out of the public eye since his retirement from Congress in 2008, the onetime newspaper tycoon and leader in the construction and banking businesses was well remembered following his death on March 12.
everett, alabama, wallace, trump, air force
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2024-14-15
Monday, 15 April 2024 08:14 PM
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