|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nebraska's 3rd district
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2001
|Preceded by||Virginia Smith|
|Succeeded by||Tom Osborne|
February 9, 1929 |
|Spouse(s)||Elsie Carlson Barrett|
William E. "Bill" Barrett (born February 9, 1929) is a Republican politician from Nebraska who served five terms in the United States House of Representatives from 1991 to 2001 as the congressman for Nebraska's third congressional district.
Before seeking elective office, he served in the United States Navy, was a longtime real estate agent and Republican activist. He had also previously served as an administrator at his college alma mater. Barrett served as a member of the Nebraska Republican State Executive Committee in the 1960s and chaired the Nebraska arm of President Gerald Ford's campaign in 1976.
In 1978, Barrett was elected to the unicameral Nebraska Legislature, where he served until his election to Congress. He was speaker of the legislature from 1987 to 1991 and generated some controversy in that position after heated state budget negotiations.
In 1990, Barrett entered the Republican primary for the 3rd District after eight-term incumbent Virginia Smith announced her retirement. Despite being the highest-profile candidate in the field, he only won the five-way primary by 2,000 votes. He then faced fellow state senator Sandra Scofield in the general election. Although Barrett was initially thought to be a prohibitive favorite in this heavily Republican district, the race was extremely close, with Barrett only prevailing by 4,400 votes. This was the closest a Democrat has come to winning the 3rd since Smith won her first race in 1974 by only 737 votes. Barrett never faced another contest nearly that close, and was reelected four more times by well over 70 percent of the vote. The Democrats didn't even field a challenger in 1998.
In Congress, Barrett was a low-key member who generally supported the priorities of Republican leaders. He served on the House Agriculture Committee, eventually rising to become vice chairman, and on the Education/Workforce Committee. Barrett retired from Congress in 2000 and currently resides in Lexington.
- Bill Barrett at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved on 2009-03-04
- Stennis Center for Public Service Biography
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.