Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) announced Thursday he would not seek reelection. Farenthold had been criticized for a taxpayer-funded settlement with a former staffer who accused the Congressman of sexual harassment.
In recent days, reports of a toxic atmosphere in his House office added to calls for his resignation. Until now, Farenthold had avoided the fate of other lawmakers who have resigned amid harassment allegations.
Chris Ramirez, an editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times says Farenthold had been insulated in part by the fact that he is well-financed and has not faced strong opposition for his Congressional seat.
“A lot of those allegations, while they have dogged him off and on for the past couple of years,” Ramirez says “it’s been a difficult task for anyone on the Democratic side to challenge him.”
A number of Democratic and Republican candidates have filed for the 27th district seat, including Republican Bech Bruun, a former chair of the Texas Water Board.
Deirdre Delisi, an Austin-based Republican strategist, says the race for the 27th district seat will be very different without Farenthold.
“It would have been a referendum on his record, his behavior,” Delisi says. “With that out of the way, you have left a handful of candidates – some better-known than others in that part of the state – to campaign about…what they plan to do in Congress.”
Delisi says she believes Democrats would have preferred Farenthold remain in the race, providing a “big target.”
Delisi says Congressman Roger Williams’ endorsement of Bruun sends a message that Republicans want to move on.
“We don’t want the debate to be about the appropriateness of Farenthold’s actions…,” she says. “We want this debate to be about the future of the party, and the future of this country, and what we think is the best direction to go in.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.