Sixth Texas Republican Retires In Mass Party Exodus


The Texodus started with a trickle and has become a flood of Republicans escaping the hallowed halls of Congress. Sure, being in the House of Representatives minority is not especially fun, but the winds will change and reinstate them again. What is the real reason for the exodus?

Representative Mac Thornberry (R-TX) is the latest to leave and a “heavyweight loss” for his colleagues. He announced he would not return after 13 terms in the House. The Texan quoted a verse from Ecclesiastes in his farewell announcement, according to The Dallas News:

‘We are reminded … that “for everything there is a season” and I believe that the time has come for a change. Therefore, I will not be a candidate for reelection in the 2020 election.’

Thornberry chaired the House’s Armed Services Committee, then became its ranking member when Democrats took the House in 2018. There are term limits for this committee. He wrote:

‘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.’

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The Texas representative came from the Panhandle and was elected as one of the “longest-tenured Texans in Washington from either party.” Texas had 25 Texas Republicans in the House. That number will drop to 11 by the end of next year.

Thornberry has not always followed the president. Although the representative supported Trump’s wall, he did not want the military to build it. He also did not want the president to use the military’s budget to fund it:

‘In short, I’m opposed to using defense dollars for non-defense purposes.’

Trump won 80% of the vote in Thornberry’s district in the 2016 election:

‘I could not have asked for a better group of employers than the people of the 13th District. Their faith, common sense, and work ethic, along with a deep patriotism and devotion to our country, have encouraged and motivated me to do my best on their behalf.’

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Another Republican retired last year, Representative Joe Barton (R-TX). He said:

‘The difference between being a chairman and being a ranking member is like coaching the Dallas Cowboys versus coaching the Ennis Junior High School football team.’

Republicans have been experiencing a drain as more members of the party have peeled off from the mothership. In addition, these retirements have signaled that the Republicans might not be able to win back the House of Representatives in 2020. They held the House for eight years before losing in by 40 seats in 2016.

Should that pattern continue, the Republicans would be unable to carry much power in the near future. Thornberry told The Texas Tribune:

‘With over a year to go, I will continue to represent the people of the 13th District to the best of my ability. 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.’

Thornberry was also a rancher and an attorney.

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