U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, announced Friday afternoon that he is retiring from Congress.
The retirement sets up what will likely be one of the most competitive House races in the country. Olson narrowly won reelection last year against Democrat Sri Kulkarni, who is running again.
Olson, who was first elected to Congress in 2008, announced his retirement in a news release.
“Protecting our future and preserving our exceptional nation are the reasons I first ran for Congress,” he wrote. “Now, it’s time for another citizen-legislator to take up this mission, not to make a career out of politics, but to help lead in the cause of empowering our people, defending our liberties, and making sure America remains the greatest nation in history.”
Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls announced earlier in the day that he was exploring a primary challenge against Olson, per the Fort Bend Herald.
Olson is a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law. On the day he took the bar exam, he enlisted in the Navy and served as an aviator during the Gulf War. He went on to serve as a staffer to Republican U.S. Sens. Phil Gramm and John Cornyn.
During his time in Congress, he has served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He championed the Keystone XL pipeline and focused much of his attention on NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Hurricane Harvey hit his southwestern suburban Houston district hard. To help draw attention to the Texas delegation’s advocacy for hurricane relief, Olson went around Capitol Hill wearing an Astros jersey over his dress shirt.
Attorney Nyanza Davis Moore and Pearland City Councilman Derrick Reed are also running for the Democratic nomination.
While once a conservative stronghold, the district’s political future is uncertain. Olson won reelection last November by a mere 5 percentage points. House Democrats made clear early this cycle they plan to mount a fierce challenge against him.
The chairman of the House GOP campaign arm, U.S Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minnesota, released a statement on Olson’s decision.
“I’d like to thank Pete for his years of service to Texas and the nation and wish him well in his retirement,” he said. “Whoever the socialist Democrats nominate will be forced to defend their party’s radical agenda of socialized medicine and killing oil and gas jobs with the Green New Deal in a solid Republican district.
“This will remain a Republican district for the foreseeable future.”
A spokesman for the Democratic counterpart committee released his own bullish statement about the seat.
“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 spokesman Avery Jaffe. “That’s why we added him to our Republican Retirement Watch List in February.”
“As the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] 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. One of the most diverse districts on the battlefield, Democrats can win this open seat and we look forward to Congressman Olson spending his golden years deep in the heart of Texas.”
By Abby Livingston
Beto O’Rourke has run out of f**ks to give — and we’re here for it
Beto O'Rourke is no longer a serious contender, but he might be able to teach his party how not to live in fear
Beto O'Rourke, the former congressman from Texas who is now a Democratic presidential candidate, has been titillating the schoolmarms of the American press corps by saying naughty words. He let an F-bomb fly while dressing down the media for pretending that it was debatable whether Donald Trump was responsible for inspiring the mass shooting in El Paso, O'Rourke's hometown. He let loose another one in response to another mass shooting in the Midland-Odessa area, which is relatively nearby by Texas standards.
Beto O’Rourke’s plan to legalize marijuana includes clemency for possession sentences and grants for those who already served time
For his latest policy proposal, the Democratic presidential candidate returns to a cause he has championed since his days on the El Paso City Council.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke on Thursday morning released a marijuana legalization plan that calls for clemency for everyone currently serving sentences for possession.
The former El Paso congressman also would push for a federal tax on the pot industry and put the revenue toward a "Drug War Justice Grant" for those formerly incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana offenses.
Beto O’Rourke’s call for mandatory buyback of assault weapons roils Texas politics
The Democratic presidential candidate's proposal has upended the gun debate nationwide, but perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in Texas. It's here that both parties are facing internal divisions as they work to respond to recent shootings in El Paso and Odessa.
Beto O'Rourke may not be running for statewide office anymore, but it's been difficult to tell in recent days.
The Democratic presidential candidate's aggressive push for mandatory buybacks for assault weapons has upended the gun debate nationwide, but perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in Texas, where both parties are grappling with internal divisions of varying degrees as they react to recent mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa. For Republicans, O'Rourke has proven a unifying foil as they fracture over whether to expand background checks. For Democrats, his proposal represents something of a new litmus test that is already reverberating down ballot.