Known as a conservative firebrand with a semi-automatic rifle pin on his lapel, Jonathan Stickland has announced he will not be running to maintain his seat in the Texas House of Representatives in 2020. He stated that it was “not the Lord’s will” for him to seek reelection, according to The Texas Tribune.
Stickland is a strict conservative and a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus. Democrat Steve Riddel, who nearly defeated Stickland in 2018, has already announced plans to run for Stickland’s soon-to-be-empty seat.
Mark Jones is a fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, and says that Stickland stepped down because of his awareness that his district is becoming less conservative.
“He did have a difficult election in 2018. … I think he knew this time around that Democrats would be targeting him, come at him with a better-funded and more serious candidate,” Jones says. “So he would, unlike in the past, have to run an actual serious general election campaign.”
Stickland sent out a mass email and took to social media with the introduction, “What a ride we’ve had together!” to make the announcement. This comes shortly after the passing of his first and only successful bill, repealing red light cameras across the state. He had thought of himself less as a politician who was set on passing bills, and more of a moral compass to represent what he felt was in the best interest of the people in his district.
Stickland’s departure may represent a change in Texas politics, or at least a less certain future for the state’s conservative lawmakers, Jones says. Jones also says this is a sign that the Freedom Caucus will likely be much more fragmented by the next legislative session. In order for Republicans to maintain their position in Texas politics, Jones says they need to start promoting more centrist policies.
“It reflects a trend we’re likely to see, with more centrist Republican candidates winning in primaries and becoming influential,” Jones says, “[to achieve] the goal within the Republican Party of maintaining their majority in the Texas house.”
Written by Marina Vences.