Max Sandlin was elected County Judge of Harrison County in 1986 and held that position for three years. He was elected Judge of the County Court at Law for Harrison County in 1989. He held that position until he was elected to the U.S. House in 1996, receiving 52 percent of the vote against Republican Ed Merritt.
Sandlin was re-elected in 1998, defeating Republican Dennis Boerner with 59 percent of the vote. He was re-elected in 2000 with 56 percent of the vote.
In 2002, Sandlin won re-election with 56 percent of the vote.