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Home | Opinion | Analysis: Two more months of musical chairs for Texans seeking office in 2020
Six Texas Republican members of Congress have announced their retirements. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

Analysis: Two more months of musical chairs for Texans seeking office in 2020

Want to play parlor games?

Texas candidates who want to run in 2020 don’t have to declare their plans for another couple of months, leaving time for all sorts of crazy twists and turns before the election ballots are set.

Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. is the filing deadline for 2020 candidates in Texas. Here’s a lesser-known rule: Nobody can officially file to run for office until Nov. 9. All of that means nobody has paid the entry fee and signed his or her name to get on the ballot; many have started campaign finance operations, but those filings don’t put a candidate on the ballot.

The reasons for running, or not running, are still being created. On Monday, U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican elected in 1994, said he won’t seek another term in office.

That particular development doesn’t create much opportunity for Democrats; Thornberry’s district is strawberry red. He won reelection in 2018 with 81.5% of the vote — with both a Democrat and a Libertarian in the competition. But for ambitious Republicans, it opens a door that has been locked for a quarter of a century. People will be filing for that election now who, with Thornberry in office, wouldn’t even have whispered about it.

Open seats like that — Thornberry is the sixth Texas Republican member of Congress to decide it’s time to collect that fat congressional pension — prompt changes in plans. Three of those — Thornberry, Mike Conaway of Midland and Bill Flores of Bryan — represent districts that would be difficult to impossible for Democrats to win. But three — Will Hurd of Helotes, Kenny Marchant of Coppell and Pete Olson of Sugar Land — are in seats Democrats could win. In fact, each of them survived a good scare on the way back into office in 2018: Hurd won by a 0.44-percentage-point margin, Marchant by 3.1 points and Olson by 4.9 points.

Author: ROSS RAMSEYThe Texas Tribune

Editor’s note: If you’d like an email notice whenever we publish Ross Ramsey’s column, click here.

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About The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. Facebook (@TexasTribune) Twitter (@TexasTribune) Instagram (@Texas_Tribune)

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