Hensarling’s retirement announcement comes just two weeks before filing begins for 2018 primaries
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
DALLAS (CFP) — U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican who chairs the powerful House Financial Services Committee, has announced he won’t seek re-election in 2018, creating a third open House race in Texas less than two weeks before filing begins for the 2018 primaries.
“Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned,” said Hensarling, who was first elected to Congress in 2002 to represent Texas’s 5th District. “Although I will not be running for reelection, there are 14 months left in my congressional term to continue the fight for individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited constitutional government — the causes for which I remain passionate.”
Because of GOP term limits for committee chairman, Hensarling would have lost his chairmanship in 2019 had he remained in Congress, even if Republicans held control of the chamber. He said that with the end of his chairmanship, “the time seems right for my departure.”
Hensarling’s 5th District takes in eastern Dallas County and stretches into rural areas to the east and south. Although the district has a majority-minority population, it is solidly Republican, having gone for President Trump with 63 percent of the vote in 2016; Hensarling carried 80 percent.
However, Hensarling’s retirement is likely to set off a mad scramble for his seat, thanks to Texas’s early primary schedule. Filing opens November 11 and closes December 11, and the primary will be held on March 6. The only candidate in the race at the time of Hensarling’s October 31 retirement was Democrat Dan Wood, an attorney and city councilman from Terrell.
Before being electing to Congress, Hensarling, 60, was an aide to former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm, and, like Gramm, cultivated an image as a fiscal hawk and opponent of increased government spending. In 2010, he was elected as chairman of the House Republican Conference, the fourth-ranking position in the House, a post he gave up to take the Financial Services chairmanship.
Hensarling is the third member of the Texas House delegation to forgo a re-election bid in 2016. Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke from El Paso is giving up his seat to challenge U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. GOP U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson from Dallas is retiring after 28 years in Congress.
While all three of these seats are unlikely to change hands, three Democrats are making a play for Johnson’s 3rd District seat, which Trump only carried with 55 percent of the vote.