Sixth Texas GOP Congressman Retires Ahead of 2020 Race

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, speaks in Washington on April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

(CN) – Add longtime Texas Congressman Mac Thornberry to the growing list of Republican House members opting for retirement ahead of the 2020 elections.

Thornberry, 61, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Monday morning that he would not seek a 14th term because “the time has come for a change.”

“It has been a great honor to serve the people of the 13th District of Texas as their congressman for the last 25 years. They have given me opportunities to serve the nation in ways I could have never imagined, including as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee,” Thornberry said. “We are reminded, however, that ‘for everything there is a season,’ and I believe that the time has come for a change. Therefore, this is my last term in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Elected to Congress in 1994 as part of the Republican Revolution that resulted in the GOP takeover of the House, Thornberry, the dean of the Texas GOP delegation, joins five other congressional Republicans from the Lone Star State who have stated their intentions to retire in the last two months: Representatives Bill Flores, Will Hurd, Mike Conaway, Pete Olson and Kenny Marchant.

Overall, 19 House Republicans have announced plans to step down, including four who are leaving to seek different offices.

Thornberry’s 13th Congressional District along the Texas Panhandle is likely to remain in GOP hands. It has been rated as solid Republican and is regarded as among the most conservative districts in the country.

But the demographics of Thornberry’s district didn’t stop Democrats from reveling in the announcement of yet another Republican retirement. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been pouring resources into Texas, including the opening of an Austin satellite office in April with senior staffers, in hopes of putting the increasingly competitive state into play in 2020.

“Texas is the biggest battleground state. Republicans know it and Texas Democrats damn sure know it,” said Manny Garcia, executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. “A quarter of the Texas House Republican Delegation has now retired — a staggering amount for the largest Republican delegation in Congress.”

Thornberry, an attorney by trade who practiced law in Amarillo and worked in his family’s ranching business, said he would continue to represent his district with over a year to go in office. He has established himself in Congress as a vocal supporter of increased military spending, lower taxes, limited government and international trade.

“Our nation faces many difficult challenges, and none of us can relax our efforts to meet and overcome them, whether at home or around the world,” he said in a statement.

Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey said while Thornberry’s experience will be missed in Congress, “we look forward to his involvement in electing another qualified Republican to represent CD-13.”

“We will work with him, the County Party, and State Republican Executive Committee to find a qualified, conservative candidate to run for the district in 2020,” Dickey said. “We will continue to fight to keep Texas red in 2020 and beyond.”

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