In recent weeks, two prominent Republican U.S. representatives from Texas announced that they would not be seeking reelection: Kay Granger of Fort Worth and Michael Burgess of Lewisville.
Also in North Texas, Democratic Rep. Colin Allred is trading his seat for a bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
Why all these departures from lawmakers representing the same region of the state, and what might this mean for Texas’ congressional delegation?
Alexandra Samuels, a senior editor at Texas Monthly, said it is a bit unusual for so many representatives from one region of the state to retire or step away from their seats.
“That was a question I had going into it too, because usually when you see multiple retirements in one region and especially before a presidential election cycle, it can be a sign that these folks are facing tough reelection bids. But I don’t think that’s the case here,” she said. “Allred represents a pretty solidly blue seat. And in 2021, the lege re-drew the state’s congressional maps to ensure that incumbents had even safer seats.
“What’s really happening here is, I think age is factoring into Burgess and Granger’s announcements. And then for Allred, I think it’s a desire to swim in a bigger pond, so to say, in his challenge against Ted Cruz.”
» GET MORE NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE: Sign up for Texas Standard’s weekly newsletters
Samuels said a frustration with the partisan politicking in Congress may have also be a factor.
“Without me interviewing them, it’s a little bit of speculation on my part … but it seemed like Burgess and Granger were more old-school conservatives who were used to at least attempting to work across the aisle. But in this new Congress there’s really not a lot of that,” Samuels said. “I remember when Granger specifically was sidelined among her party members during House Republicans’ repeated attempts to elect a speaker. So she voted against Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio. And she got a lot of backlash from that.
“She also chaired the very powerful House Appropriations Committee. And in this last year specifically, the committee became a lot less focused on setting funding levels and increasingly centered on culture issues. And I think that was something that Granger really didn’t want to be a part of.”
Samuels said she expects that the departure of old-school Republican representatives could open the door for more extreme right-wing lawmakers to win those seats.
“We’re seeing some evidence of that already. So for Burgess’ seat, we already have some contestants who have announced a run there, including Luisa del Rosal, who is Tony Gonzales’ former chief of staff. But then you also have folks like Brandon Gill, who is the founder of the D.C. Enquirer. He has the endorsement already, too, of Freedom Caucus member Lauren Boebert.
“And then you have former Representative Ron Simmons of Carrollton, who authored the very contentious bathroom bill, I believe that was in 2017. They’re all mulling runs for that seat. Meanwhile, Granger’s seat was already the target of Republican John O’Shea, who has been endorsed by Attorney General Ken Paxton.”
Samuels said she isn’t sure if other retirements will follow these two, but there are some names political scientists are watching.
“A few political scientists and others that I spoke to told me to keep an eye on John Carter,” she said. “I think there is a real difference now in the ages of the folks in Congress, there’s a real divide between the people like Granger and Burgess, who have been in Congress for decades, and those who have only known Congress since it’s moved further right under Trump. So I’d say to keep an eye on some of those older politicians who have been there for a long time.”