On Wednesday, two more Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Texas Rep. Bill Flores, announced that they wouldn’t seek reelection. There are now a dozen House Republicans retiring, and almost half of them are from Texas.
Todd Gillman is Washington bureau chief for The Dallas morning News, and says the reason for the retirements is, in part, because of dwindling power particularly among senior House Republicans. Mike Conaway who represents parts of West Texas, is another retiring Texas member. He was chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture until Democrats took control after the 2018 midterms.
“There’s very little hope for Republicans of retaking the majority in the U.S. House next year,” Gillman says. “For senior Republicans who are now staring down the barrel of political exile, being backbenchers after spending most of their time in Congress rising, and then being very powerful, it’s just not an especially appealing prospect to stay.”
Members of Congress with less seniority are also leaving. Pete Olson from the Houston area and Kenny Marchant from the Dallas-Fort Worth area announced their retirements over the summer. Gillman says both reps almost lost their seats in the 2018 midterms.
“They’re looking not only at the political wilderness and remaining in the minority, but having trouble even surviving,” Gillman says.
He says the retirements suggest a bleak future for Republicans in general, in the House. That’s because it’s harder for incumbents to defend their seats when their party isn’t in the majority. It comes down to money: Republicans will have to spend resources on protecting seats rather than going after new ones.
“Money that maybe that could have been on offense, they have to spend it on defense. In that dynamic, that is a very damaging kind of situation,” Gillman says.
Fewer Texas Republicans in the House could also make it harder to reelect Donald Trump, Gillman says. Republicans, he says, view Texas as an essential part of staying in power.
“Texas is teetering. If we lose Texas, we lose the White House,” Gillman says Republicans are saying.
That’s because the two other states with the largest numbers of representatives – New York and California – lean Democratic.
“The math for Republicans at the presidential level absolutely hinges on Texas being a Republican state,” he says.
Written by Caroline Covington.