Republican Congressman Pete Olson (Texas), who represents part of the increasingly blue Houston metropolitan area and was nearly wiped out by the 2018 Democratic wave, announced Thursday that he won’t seek reelection in 2020, Politico reports. The move opens up a potential battleground district in the Houston suburbs.
Olson’s announcement comes only one day after another Republican, Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan, announced his resignation from Congress. Mitchell has only been serving in the chamber for two years before calling it quits.
Other Republicans who have decided to retire rather than face a tough reelection in 2020 include Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA), who won his seat by only 400 votes in 2018, and Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), who quit just two weeks after the start of the new term.
Had Olson stuck around he would have faced an uphill battle to save his seat.
Texas’ 22nd Congressional District, which occupies part of the Houston suburbs, has long been a red district that has quickly been shifting leftward. Olson won the seat by a 35 point margin in 2014, but that shrank to 19 points in 2016 and to a measly 5-point win in 2018.
Additionally, national Democrats have been increasingly targeting the Texas suburbs.
“Republicans across Texas are terrified of losing their seats in 2020 and we can’t blame Pete Olson for choosing to retire instead of being thrown out of office next year,” said DCCC spokesperson Avery Jaffe. “As the DCCC continues to invest in Texas, Washington Republicans like Olson are thinking twice about pouring their time and money into seats that used to be safe bets.”
Still more than a year until the next elections, it’s not out of the question that even more Republicans will call it quits rather than face a tough fight.
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