Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX), an eight-term congressman and a reliable conservative vote on the House Ways and Means Committee, announced on Monday that he won’t seek office in 2020, becoming the fourth Texas Republican to retire from office in the last two weeks.
Marchant is the 11th House Republican to announce they will not be seeking re-election in 2020, according to data from Ballotpedia. Meanwhile, only three House Democrats plan to retire or seek another office in 2020, complicating Republican plans to take back the lower house.
“It is time for me to announce that I will not seek another term as Congressman from the 24th District of Texas. I am looking forward to finishing out my term and then returning to Texas to start a new chapter,” Marchant said in a press release.
After serving in local government for decades, Marchant was easily elected into a suburban Dallas district in 2004, smashing his Democratic opponent with a 30-point lead. But the district, formerly a Republican stronghold, is no longer what it used to be — in 2018, Marchant kept his seat from a Democratic challenger by a three-point lead.
Marchant and several other Texas Republicans fought tough re-election battles in 2018 as Democrats clamored that the “Blue Wave” is finally coming to the Lone Star state. Presidential contender Beto O'Rourke, then a House Democrat, first emerged into the national spotlight when he raised $38 million to challenge Senator Ted Cruz, smashing quarterly fundraising records.
For the most part, the Red Wall held: the Republicans lost only two House seats to Democrats, and Cruz successfully defended his Senate seat by a 2 point margin. But some victorious Texas Republicans emerged bruised from the election, winning with uncomfortably small margins in what was previously a reliably Republican state where no Democrat had won a statewide office since 1994.
Some analysts speculate that the growing Hispanic population is neutralizing the Republican advantage in the Lone Star state. Hispanics are expected to surpass whites and become the largest demographic in Texas as soon as in 2022, the Texas Tribune reported.
Meanwhile, Cruz had a different explanation: he said that Texas Republicans struggled in 2018 because the suburbs were turning blue, The Washington Post reported.
“Historically, the cities have been bright blue and surrounded by bright red doughnuts of Republican suburban voters,” Cruz said. “What happened in 2018 is that those bright red doughnuts went purple — not blue, but purple. We’ve got to do a more effective job of carrying the message to the suburbs.”
Before Marchant’s announcement, Texas Republicans Rep. Pete Olsen, Will Hurd, and Michael Conaway have all announced resignation. The first two representatives were from competitive House districts, with Olsen winning by five points and Hurd by 0.5 points over their Democrat opponents in the last election cycle.
Marchant was one of the founding members of the House Tea Party caucus. Prior to joining Congress, he previously served in the Texas State House for nine terms, The Hill reported.