Midland’s Ernest Angelo, Jr. has spent most of his life in two often unpredictable and controversial fields- oil and politics. Born in Minnesota and raised in Louisiana, Angelo made the decision to move to Midland in 1958 with his wife, Penny. He is an LSU alum with a Petroleum Engineering degree and quickly got his feet wet in the oil fields and political races of the Permian Basin.
While he didn’t grow up with politically active parents, current events were often the topic of discussion at home. Angelo, however, has been interested in politics most of his life. He recollects the presidential election in 1952, when he was just a teenager: “I was a big fan of Bob Taft who ran in the GOP presidential primary against Dwight Eisenhower. I had a friend whose family had a TV and I watched the convention at his house, while recovering from an appendix operation.”
A few years later, after enrolling at LSU, Angelo recalls another incident that fed his interest in the political arena. “I was a freshman when the Joe McCarthy controversy was going strong. I wrote a letter to the school newspaper defending McCarthy. [After the article was published] my English professor brought it up in class and tried to give me a hard time about my opinion. Fortunately it did not affect my grade. I guess you could say I’m a political person.”
A fear of controversy and bucking the status quo is something that never seems to inhibit Angelo from taking a stand, especially for conservative values. This persistency was not only demonstrated during his years in college, but also well into his career.
After graduating and moving to Midland, Angelo’s involvement in politics continued to grow at a rapid pace. He went on to hold numerous public positions including Block Captain, Precinct Chairman, State Executive Committeeman, and National Committeeman. Eventually, in 1972, Angelo was elected Mayor of Midland and served for four consecutive terms. The Tall City saw many positive changes under his administration, such as the development of its first shopping mall, the modernization of Midland International Airport, and the lowest property taxes among Texas’s top 25 most populous cities.
Angelo’s passion for politics and desire for engagement, he says, “is based on a deeply held conviction that there was a need for people to devote time and energy to preserving our country as a beacon of freedom and opportunity for all. The leftward drift of the government was a motivating factor, driving me to give more and more of my time.”
In 1976, Angelo played a large role in President Reagan’s campaign. He was asked to serve as the State Co-Chairman and in 1980, the Chairman. According to Americans for Prosperity, “had it not been for Ernest Angelo and Texas in 1976, Reagan may not have become President… It was thanks to Ernest Angelo who had the courage to buck the Republican establishment and support Ronald Reagan. The rest is history. I hope Angelo writes a book so we can know more of the details. Ernest Angelo had courage.”
Angelo continued to serve in a political capacity following Reagan’s election- having been appointed by former Governor Bush to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission and appointed as Chairman of the Department of Public Safety Commission by former Governor Perry. Currently, Angelo is on the Board of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, The Department of Public Safety Foundation, The Texas Wildlife Association, and the Mountain State Legal Foundation. He is also active in supporting GOP candidates and is campaigning for U.S. Senator turned Presidential Nominee, Ted Cruz.
Looking back on his involvement in politics, Angelo says that, “early on I realized there was little hope to promote conservatism in the Democratic Party, so I devoted my efforts in an attempt to build the GOP in Texas into a conservative force. It was a long struggle and I doubt that I really believed we would be where we are today when I started over 50 years ago.” Angelo’s tireless efforts and dedication to conservatism has undoubtedly fostered growth in the Republican Party – both in Midland and at a national level. Simultaneously, his story demonstrates the value of standing up for your principles, even though it may be an unpopular choice at the time.
Angelo still enjoys working in the oil and gas industry as a Managing Partner of Discovery Exploration. He is an avid hunter and fisherman and a devoted follower of LSU sports. He has made a hobby of collecting coins since he was a teenager and says that spending time with his kids and grandkids is a favorite pastime.
As Ernest Angelo puts it, “I have never been bored.”