Rep. Mac Thornberry to retire

Six down.

Rep. Mac Thornberry

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, announced Monday that he will not seek reelection in 2020, making him the sixth GOP congressman from Texas to say he’s retiring in recent weeks.

“It has been a great honor for me to represent the people of the 13th District of Texas for the last 25 years,” he said in a statement.

“We are reminded, however, that ‘for everything there is a season,’ and I believe that the time has come for a change. Therefore, I will not be a candidate for reelection in the 2020 election.”

Thornberry joins five other Texas Republicans in Congress who are not running for reelection — U.S. Reps. Kenny Marchant, Pete Olson, Mike Conaway, Will Hurd and Bill Flores. But Thornberry’s exit is somewhat different from other Republicans’ shocking retirements over the summer. The last remaining Texas Republican from the class of 1994 and the dean of the GOP delegation, Thornberry was expected by many to retire soon. He will turn over his post leading the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee in January 2021, thanks to Republican term limits for committee chairmanships.

We did hear about this possibility before, with the end of his term on the House Armed Services Committee as the likely reason. CD13 is one of the reddest districts in the country – I mean, Trump got 79.5% in 2016, Ted Cruz got 79.2% in 2018 – so this has nothing to do with re-election fears, as is the case with some of his soon-to-be-ex-colleagues. I don’t know how he felt about Trump – Thornberry was among the quieter members of the GOP Congressional caucus – but I wouldn’t expect him to have to deal with that much on the trail, and being in the minority plus losing his plum committee assignment sure seems like good reasons to hit the road to me.

By the way, looking back at the 1994 election results sure is a trip down memory lane. There are now three members of Congress from that year who will (barring anything wildly unexpected) be there in 2021: Lloyd Doggett, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Eddie Berniece Johnson. Doggett and SJL were also members of the class of 1994, with Doggett succeeding Jake Pickle, who retired, and SJL ousting Craig Washington in the primary. EBJ is the sole member who was there before 1994, having arrived in the 1992 election. Four other members – Sam Johnson, Joe Barton, Lamar Smith, and Gene Green – stepped down in 2018. Of the incumbents who are expected to be on the 2020 ballot, only eleven – Doggett, SJL, EBJ plus eight more – were there prior to the 2011 redistricting: Louie Gohmert, Kevin Brady, Al Green, Mike McCaul, Kay Granger, Michael Burgess, Henry Cuellar, and John Carter. Of them, McCaul and Carter had close shaves in 2018, with McCaul already facing strong competition for 2020, while Cuellar does and Granger may face strong primary challenges. Change can be slow in Texas, but it does happen.

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4 Responses to Rep. Mac Thornberry to retire

  1. blank says:

    The 2021 redistricting predictions I keep hearing is that the GOP will add Democratic voter sinks in Dallas, Austin, and Houston. But, with districts like this one, with 120K+ surplus Ted Cruz voters, I think the GOP is going to shore up/crack the swing districts instead of adding voter sinks. I am expecting an Amarillo to Irving district.

  2. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    The GOP is welcome to try. But marrying fast growing areas that are moving toward the Democrats to static populations in the Panhandle or East Texas is a very dangerous game that might leave the GOP in a far worse position and quickly.

    Basically, so long as reapportionment is based upon a credible census of residents, theres not that many areas of unutilized Republican voters. Theres East Texas, the Panhandle, East Texas, and Comal, Montgomery and Midland/Odessa. Comal and Montgomery will be unavailable because theyre needed to shore up nearby districts.

    I fail to see how the Republicans, even with maximum redistricting create durable districts in all their seats without ceding at least two of the three new seats to the Democrats.

    And theres another problem. The GOP incumbents/candidates arent likely to look like Sarah Davis or Will Hurd, but more like Louie Goehmert or Chip Roy. These candidates repel independents so theyll need to make those seats at least +10R in the 2022 to 2026 cycles and probably +15R in the 2026 to 2032 cycles. Theres simply not enough Republicans to go around.

    And the same dynamic is going on in the State Senate.

  3. blank says:

    @Tom–I probably should have clarified. I do think Republicans will add voter sinks. I just doubt it will be as many as 3, and of the 3 areas mentioned, I think DFW will be the odd one out. Of course, I hope you’re right, and I am wrong.

  4. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Oh, theyll certainly try to stretch a single into a triple in redistricting, but they will sorely regret it and rather quickly.

    If Trump loses in 2020, there may be a minor ‘dead cat bounce’ for the GOP in 2022. And then it will be over. They may win 2 or 3 extra seats in 2022, under perfect conditions for them, but they will leave a dozen seats vulnerable of a GOP backlash to a Democratic president doesnt materialize. If Trump wins reelection, they will need to proceed with extreme caution, but they wont.

    As far as extreme gerrymandering goes, its unlikely to serve the intended purpose, which is GOP control of the House, so long as the GOP continues to nominate far right wing candidates, which they appear to be insistent on doing so for the foreseeable future.

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