Age may be just a number, but when you’re the oldest member to have served in the U.S. House of Representatives, it could cost you an 18th term in office.
Rep. Ralph Hall is a 91-year-old Republican from Rockwall, Texas, locked in a fierce battle to retain his congressional seat. The World War II veteran won 45 percent of the vote in the state’s March primary, forcing him into a run-off election against challenger, John Ratcliffe, who came in second with 28 percent.
The runoff election takes place Tuesday.
Hall said his age shouldn’t be a factor in the race.
“I'm a good congressman. I'm not the flashy congressman, but I'm a good congressman because I represent the people that need representing,” he told NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell.
But he admits that people are concerned by how old he is, and he addressed the issue by making light of it in his latest political ad.
"When you've battled Nancy Pelosi as much as I have you're bound to get a few wrinkles," he says in the video.
Hall is well-liked in his district, where a local airport is named after him, but some voters believe it may be time to give the job to someone else. Hall also has come under fire from conservative groups who have raised the fact that he started out as a Democrat before switching to the Republican party ten years ago.
“I don't know the Tea Party people,” he said. “I don't know how to direct-mail them or anything. I tell them simply, just look at my record."
In his political ads for Hall's opponent, John Ratcliffe is hailed as part of a “new generation of conservative leadership” who has “the energy, the passion, the fight” to take on President Obama.
But that’s not a slam against Hall’s age, Ratcliffe said. "I haven't made age an issue in this campaign at all,” he told O'Donnell.
However, many voters have, Ratcliffe noted in an in an interview last week on MSNBC.
“I think it’s something that the voters are concerned about,” the 48-year-old former U.S. Attorney said. “Voters raise the issue of age and it is fair for them to consider.”
Hall said he is inspired to put off retirement by the memory of his late wife, Mary Ellen Hall, who would want him to keep running.
"She would want me to, if I was doing things that would help her grandchildren, and her children, and yours,” he said.