Texas Republican Bill Flores announces 2020 retirement from Congress

By Aaron Navarro

/ CBS News

Republican House members retire, DCCC shakeup

U.S. Representative Bill Flores announced he would not seek reelection in 2020, making him the fifth GOP lawmaker from Texas to do so in the past three months. Flores, who was first elected in 2010, said he wanted to spend time with his family and honor the commitment he'd made to remain in office for six or fewer terms. He is currently serving his fifth.

"Following the end of my current term in January 2021, I look forward to spending much more time with my family and our grandchildren. I also intend to resume business activities in the private sector and to stay politically active on a federal, state and local level," Flores said in a statement.

Since Republicans lost control of the House in 2018, 12 GOP lawmakers have announced their retirement from office. Family or committee term-limits expiring are often cited as reasons, but most of the Texas retirees are also coming off competitive 2018 bouts. Texas Representatives Kenny Marchant and Pete Olson both won by less than 5 percent and Rep. Will Hurd won by only 926 votes. This is not the case for Flores, however.

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Since riding the Tea-Party wave almost a decade ago and unseating a 20-year Democrat incumbent, Flores has often won re-election handily. He won his 2018 race by more than 15 points, his closest compared to past years, but expressed frustration in August with the Democrat-led House.

"I was hopeful that the Democrat-led House would avoid playing political games and work with Republicans to build on this successful record of improving economic growth, opportunity and security for all Americans," he said. "The House Democrat Majority, however, has spent much of this year jamming through hyper-partisan, failed liberal ideas from the past that would hurt economic prosperity and weaken our security."

Flores represents a central Texas district that has been reliably Republican, but also includes Austin suburbs and two state universities in Texas A&M and Baylor. Texas Democrats and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have often pointed to changing demographics as a reason some of these suburban districts are flashing blue. His Texas 17th District was not on the initial DCCC target list, but the committee has been championing the term "Texodus" as the state's retirements come in.

"Texodus is real, and we're going to have a huge chance here to flip many of these seats. We don't think this is the last one either," said Texas Democratic Party communications director Abhi Rahman told CBS News.

While in Congress, Flores served as chair of the Republican Study Committee and is currently on the House Energy & Commerce Committee. He voted often with President Donald Trump, who won the district by 17 points in 2016, and has been a vocal supporter of the USMCA trade agreement.

He announced his retirement Thursday morning on WTAW, a radio station in his district. On there, he said he was hopeful a Republican would step up and that the Democrat's goal "to turn Texas blue" isn't going to happen.

"It's a center-right district… there are a lot of thoughtful conservative leaders out there, particularly the next generation, that I think will decide to serve the public and get engaged," he said on the College Station radio show.

First published on September 4, 2019 / 11:31 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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