AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A fifth Texas Republican congressman added his name Wednesday to the list of House GOP retirements in the nation’s biggest conservative state.
Five-term Rep. Bill Flores is the 14th House Republican so far to announce plans to depart this year, compared with three House Democrats who have said they are leaving. Another GOP incumbent, Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, resigned earlier this year but the party retained the seat.
While Flores’ district is considered safe for Republicans, the number of GOP departures has complicated the party’s uphill quest to recapture the House majority in the 2020 elections.
At least four of the retiring Republicans are vacating seats that Democrats could win, largely in suburban districts where an aversion to President Donald Trump among educated women is weakening the GOP.
Flores said he made a commitment when he first ran for Congress that he would serve fewer than six terms.
He easily held onto his mostly rural district by 15 percentage points last year during an election cycle when other Republican incumbents got a scare in races closer to Texas’ big cities. More than one-third of the House GOP retirements are now from Texas, where a generation of Republican dominance is weakening amid demographic changes and booming suburbs that are trending to Democrats
Democrats control the House 235-197, with one independent and two vacancies in North Carolina that are scheduled to be filled in special elections next week.
Flores’ announcement also kept House Republicans ahead of their pace during the 2018 election cycle, when 34 of them did not run for re-election. That was the party’s highest number of retirements since at least 1930.
Among the other Texans leaving are Will Hurd, the House’s only black Republican, and Rep. Michael Conaway, a former House Agriculture Committee chairman.