David Van Os

David Van Os

David Van Os (born 1950) is a Texas attorney and a populist democrat. A prominent figure in the Democratic Party of the U.S. state of Texas and a three-time Democratic nominee for statewide office, he is a self-styled "People's Democrat" and civil rights attorney.

Political history

2006 Texas Attorney General bid

In October, 2006, Van Os proposed constitutional amendments he termed "Citizens' Protection Amendments," to protect Texans from continuing abuses of eminent domain and toll roads. Van Os proposed that the power of eminent domain be limited to reasons of public security and safety. He also proposed that building new toll roads or converting existing public roads to toll roads should only occur if the citizens in the county where the road is to be built or converted approve through passage of voter referendums. He joined other Democratic populist Texas Candidates such as Hank Gilbert, Fred Head, and Maria Luisa Alvarado in speaking out against the proposed Trans Texas Corridor at public hearings in the summer of 2006.

During his 2006 race for Attorney General of Texas, he vowed to fight for the people of Texas against the large monopolistic oil, insurance and media conglomerates, saying he'd "Fight them until hell freezes over and then fight them on the ice." Much of his funding for his 2006 campaign came from contributions of $20 to $100 from low to medium income donors who met him during his 254 county "Whistle stop" Campaign Tour or read about him on the blogs. His opponent, Republican incumbent Greg Abbott entered the race with over six million dollars in his campaign war chest.

As the Democratic nominee for attorney general, Van Os took his campaign directly to the people. He pledged to visit all 254 counties in Texas during the 2006 election cycle. With his wife Rachel Barrios-Van Os, who served as his campaign manager, he visited each courthouse and spoke on the courthouse square. His last five "Whistle Stops" were in Tarrant County on October 16, Dallas County on October 17, Harris County on October 18, Travis County on October 19 and his home county of Bexar on October 20. Local supporters joined him on the courthouse steps as he proclaimed his determination to "return Texas Government back to the people" denouncing the "bought and paid for perversion of the American political process." In Tarrant, truckdrivers passing on the street, acknowledged him by honking their horns when they saw the signs with his campaign message "MESSAGE TO BIG OIL -- I'm coming after you." During much of 2006 gasoline prices had soared to a record of over three dollars a gallon and dipped rapidly a month before the general election by at least a dollar a gallon. Many people suspected that the timing of the rise and fall was due to political manipulation. Supporters of David Van Os funded billboards in many counties in Texas with the following message: "MESSAGE TO BIG OIL - I'M COMING AFTER YOU!" His opponent, Abbott, received considerable money from insurance companies. Van Os vowed to use the office of the Attorney General's office, if elected, to enforce the anti-trust provisions of the Texas and U.S. Constitutions, especially in regards to insurance company pricing. His other billboard message during the 2006 Attorney General's race was: "INSURANCE GOUGERS - I'M COMING AFTER YOU"

A firm believer in U.S. and Texas Constitutional law, Van Os outlined his promises in a legal affidavit and filed it with the county clerk of each county in Texas. The 2006 Attorney General's race was the second time in eight years that Abbott and Van Os were statewide competitors. They had faced off earlier in a race for Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. In 2006, Van Os consistently challenged incumbent Abbott to a debate, which Abbott declined.

2004 Texas Supreme Court bid

1998 Texas Supreme Court bid

In 1998, Van Os was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court. He lost to Republican incumbent Greg Abbott by a three-to-two margin. In 2004, he again sought a Supreme Court seat but lost to appointed Republican incumbent Scott Brister.

Early years

Born February 19, 1950 in Kilgore, Texas, the son of Seymour and Francene Van Os, David Van Os excelled in school. He was a National Honor Society and National Merit Finalist, Kilgore High School. Attended University of Texas at Austin on scholastic General Motors Scholarship, 1968-1972; Graduated UT With Honors, May 1972. Selected University of Texas Junior Fellow, 1970 and Entered University of Texas Law School with academic scholarship, 1973; Graduated from the University of Texas Law School with J.D. Degree, 1976. Van Os was honored with Human Rights Research Council Distinguished Research & Writing Award, UT Law School, 1974. Recipient of the 2005 Spine Award by the Backbone Campaign. He served on Board of Directors and as Assistant Treasurer, Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation, by appointment of the Texas Supreme Court, 1985-1995. In 1990 he was honored with President’s Citation for Achievement in Civil Rights by the NAACP. The Texas Women’s Political Caucus named him "GOOD GUY OF THE YEAR" in 2002.

He married Rachel Barrios-Van Os, a native of San Antonio. They have one son, B.J. and three daughters, Kay Cee, Maya and Leya.

A political activist, Van Os attended his first Democratic State Convention in 1972 and attended every one through 2006. He served as President, Northeast Austin Democrats, 1978-1980, Democratic Precinct Chairman #132, Travis County, 1981-1988, County Democratic Chairman, Travis County, 1996-1998, Chairman, North East Bexar County Democrats, 2000-2003, Life Member, NAACP Member and Legal Panelist, American Civil Liberties Union, and Member of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.

Law career

He was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and every United States District Court in Texas serving in federal appeals courts, state appeals courts, federal and state trial courts. His accomplishments as an attorney earned him recognition such as: Named one of Texas’ Super Lawyers by Texas Monthly in 2003, 2004, and 2005; Named in Best Lawyers in America since 1986, by survey of fellow attorneys; Rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible evaluation in legal ability and professional ethics, by survey of fellow attorneys; Member, College of the State Bar of Texas Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation;

Van Os served as general counsel for the Texas AFL-CIO from 1983 through 1989 and was named Civil Libertarian of the Year, Central Texas ACLU, 1990 and was In-House District Counsel for the Communications Workers of America in Austin from 1981 through 1984. He met his wife, Rachel, while they were on a CWA picket line. One of his prominent clients was Bill Burkett in the Killian documents affair. He is the owner and Senior Attorney of David Van Os & Associates, San Antonio Texas, firm of four attorneys concentrating in Constitutional law, labor law, and civil rights, 1984-present.

Election history

Most recent election


Previous elections





  • http://enr.sos.state.tx.us/enr06prirep.htm
  • http://enr.sos.state.tx.us/enr06pridem.htm
  • http://elections.sos.state.tx.us/elchist.exe
  • http://elections.sos.state.tx.us/elchist.exe
  • http://vanosfortexasag.com/about/bg.shtml

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