Baylor University Poage Library

Jim Dunnam

James R. "Jim" Dunnam (born December 12, 1963) was a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives, representing the 57th District since his election in 1996 from January 14, 1997, until January 11, 2011. He is the grandson of William Vance Dunnam, who served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives from Coryell County in the 35th Legislature, 1917-1918.

In history, Dunnam will be best known as "the leader of the Democrats in the lower chamber, distinguished for years as the sharpest and most persistent thorn in the conservative paw," as the New York Times reported in November, 2010. He is acknowledged as engineering the Killer Ds walkout to Ardmore, Oklahoma to postpone consideration of Tom DeLay's mid-decade redistricting plan. The walkout is credited with starting serious media inquiry into DeLay's actions as majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, which ultimately led to DeLay's resignation in 2006.

Dunnam was educated at Baylor University, where he earned an undergraduate business degree and a law degree. Born in McLennan County, Texas, Dunnam is the second son of Clyde Vance Dunnam and Elnora Eveline Hohertz.

One of just two Democrats to defeat a Republican incumbent in the 1996 elections, Dunnam arrived in Austin marked for potential advancement. At the end of his first session, he had reversed budget cuts to a local college that occurred two years before. At the end of his second session, he was noted as a "comer" and potential top legislator. He fulfilled that prediction in the next session. At the end of the 2001 legislative session, Dunnam was hailed by Texas Monthly as one of Texas's ten best legislators because his "success in the House rested on talent rather than title and [he] could do what [he was] big enough to do. Though he lacked a chairmanship or even a seat on a powerful committee, Jim Dunnam was big enough to pass two of the session's biggest and best bills: charter-school reform and tougher restrictions on open containers of alcohol in cars."