This story has been updated 8/4 to include Rep. Marchant.
Four Texas Republicans in just over a week have decided it’s time to retire from Congress – an unusual pattern playing out in a short period of time.
Reps. Pete Olson of Sugar Land, Mike Conaway of Midland, Ken Marchant of the Dallas/Ft.Worth area, and Will Hurd of Helotes have announced they won’t be seeking re-election. Incumbent retirements tend to open up opportunities for challengers in some races — Hurd’s seat in the San Antonio-to-El Paso region in particular.
A prominent election forecaster, Larry Sabato, moved Hurd’s seat from “toss-up” to “leans Democratic” following his retirement announcement on Thursday. Hillary Clinton won this swing district in 2016.
“Dems have a great chance to win this seat,” tweeted Sabato.
The bigger picture here is a likely Republican nervousness about winning key elections next year. Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke are neck and neck with President Trump in Texas based on four polls. Longtime U.S. Senator John Cornyn is in the fight of his political career to be re-elected. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has identified several seats here it thinks can flip from red to blue in 2020.
(Plus, an internal civil war in the state’s GOP might be ready to bust open following a secret audio recording.)
“Texans are ready for new leadership in Washington & I’m ready to serve,” Gina Ortiz Jones, Hurd’s would-be Democratic challenger in 2020, wrote on Twitter. “Here in [#TX23], prescription drug costs are still too high, we can do more to support our service members…& we need to stand up to the reckless policies coming out of Washington, D.C.”
Hurd is the last African-American Republican standing in the U.S. House.
Marchant is expected to retire Monday, according to the New York Times.