With his term-limited tenure as chairman of the powerful Committee on Financial Services ending next year, Republican US Rep. Jeb Hensarling nonetheless surprised the political world by announcing he won’t seek re-election in 2018.
A protege of former US Sen. Phil Gramm, Hensarling developed a reputation as a budget hawk and government reformer. He successfully shepherded reforms to the ruinous Dodd-Frank regulatory scheme and has made in-roads bringing sanity to the National Flood Insurance Program.
“Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer that I had originally planned,” Hansarling wrote in a public statement.
First elected to Congress in 2002, Hensarling worked for Gramm in the late 1980s, and then for the Republican Senatorial Committee in the earlier 1990s.
The retirement immediately created a buzz around several potential candidates to replace him, though no one has announced. A potential candidate would be State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineloa), who has proven himself to be both a stalwart conservative and fierce campaigner. Because of the alignment of the election cycles, Hughes wouldn’t have to give up his Senate seat to run for Congress.
A Democrat has already filed for the congressional seat, but is unlikely to be successful. In 2012, the last time Democrats fielded a challenge there, Hensarling received 64% of the vote.
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility has announced that the organization will be making endorsements in open congressional races for the 2018 primary elections.