Eight-term U.S. Rep. Jeb Henarling (R-Dallas) announced he would not seek re-election. “Although service is Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment,” Hensarling said in a statement. “I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned.”
Hensarling chairs the House Financial Services Committee. House rules limits the amount of time a member may chair a committee, and Hensarling’s time is up at the end of 2018.
CD5 is comprised of eastern Dallas county, including Balch Springs, Mesquite, Seagoville and Sunnyvale, along with Anderson, Cherokee, Henderson, Kaufman, Van Zandt and western Wood Cos. Dallas Co. represents about 64% of the district’s overall population but just 40% of the Anglo population. Less than a quarter of the primary votes cast in CD5 in 2016 came from Dallas Co.
A rural Tea Party candidate in the mold of Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) would have, and could have had, a good chance of prevailing in the Republican primary. Hensarling has not faced a primary opponent since 2002, when he won a five-way primary outright en route to winning an open seat.
Hensarling has described himself as “Tea Party before there was a Tea Party,” but local groups have soured on him in recent years. Hensarling angered the Kaufman Co. Tea Party in 2015 by backing U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s bid for House Speaker, and the group returned a contribution from his campaign for his failure to sign a letter committing to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
At the time of his announcement, Hensarling had just one known challenger: Democrat Dan Wood, a Terrell attorney and former council member. In a tweet, Wood wished Hensarling “well in his future endeavors,” adding that the district “is ready for a change.”
Hensarling is the third member of Congress from Texas not seeking re-election, joining U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Plano), who is retiring, and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso), who is running for U.S. Senate.
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