On Monday, Rep. Mac Thornberry of Clarendon announced he would not be seeking re-election ahead of 2020. Thornberry’s departure marks the sixth Texas Republican in Congress to join the so-called “Texodus,” a steady stream of retirements from Texas’ congressional delegation.
Unlike other recent retirements, Thornberry’s district that encompasses most of the Texas panhandle is unlikely to be competitive in 2020. But it still underscores a trend of GOP retirements in Texas in a newly dynamic political environment in the Dallas and Houston parts of the state. Reps. Bill Flores, Pete Olson, Will Hurd, and Kenny Marchant are all leaving behind what are now competitive districts.
According to the latest Cook Political Report rating, at least two of those districts– Olson and Marchant — are listed as toss-ups. Rep. Will Hurd’s 23rd district has been listed as “leaning Democratic.”
“We need a new Republican Party because the one we have is getting our asses kicked in House races,” one Texas GOP strategist told Axios, which reported Tuesday that Michael McCaul, another Texas Republican congressman, may be considering “potential retirement.”
A review of publicly available finance reports over the past few years by Texas Signal reveals what could be considered lavish spending by the McCaul campaign. Since 2015, his campaign reported spending $33,086 on limousine rides, $5,788 over three days at Capital Grille restaurant, where the steaks “are meticulously dry aged on premises for more than 18 days to achieve incomparable flavor and texture,” and nearly $2,000 on a single meal at a lobbyists’ club in Washington, D.C.
At the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin over the weekend, GOP fundraiser Susan Lilly admitted many of the Republican members of Congress who lost seats in 2018 had grown complacent and lost site of why they went to Washington: their constituents.
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org