This report has been updated throughout since we sent our Breaking News alert to subscribers.
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio) will not seek re-election. In an email to supporters, Smith said it was time to “pass on the privilege of representing the 21st District to someone else.”
Smith was first elected in 1986.
House rules will prevent him from continuing as chair of the Science, Space and Technology Committee after 2018. Losing his chairmanship is also a reason why U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas) opted not to seek re-election.
CD21 includes part of northeastern Bexar Co., all but far eastern strip of Comal Co., the central part of Hays Co., and all of Bandera, Blanco, Gillespie, Kendall and Kerr Cos. It substantially overlaps SD25, which is represented by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels). Campbell’s campaign website was dark after Smith’s decision became public, which could just be a coincidence. A spokesperson for Campbell said she is considering what is best for her and the district, tweeted the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek.
Campbell received 45% of the vote in her 2010 race for what was then CD25 against U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin). CD21’s current configuration is much friendlier to a Republican candidate that the CD25 of 2010. However, Campbell would need to give up her seat to run for CD21, unlike her colleague, Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), who is considering a run for open CD5. Campbell is up for re-election in 2018. Hughes’s seat is not up until 2020.
The district also considerably overlaps the districts of Reps. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg), Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), Andrew Murr (R-Junction) and Joe Straus (R-San Antonio). Neither Isaac nor Murr live in the district. Straus announced he would not seek another term in the state House last week, but he is not believed to be interested in running for Congress. Several other elected officials and others are considering the race.
Canyon Lake author and motivational speaker Eric Burkhart previously announced he would seek the Republican nomination against Smith. A field of Democratic challengers has also formed. Austin tech entrepreneur Joseph Kopser has a significant advantage in contributions and cash on hand over the other five declared candidates.
Smith’s retirement leaves four Texas congressional seats open. U.S. Reps. Hensarling, Sam Johnson (R-Plano) and Beto O’Rourke (R-El Paso) are also not seeking re-election.
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