5th Republican in a week decides to quit Congress

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Rep. Mike Conaway is the second Republican from Texas to announce his retirement in the last week.

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) is holding a press conference Wednesday where he is expected to announce he will not seek reelection in 2020, according to Politico, making him the fifth House Republican in a week — and the second from Texas — to bail on running in 2020.

Conaway, who represents a relatively reliable Republican district that includes Midland, is currently serving his eighth term. He's the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee and previously served on the House Intelligence Committee.

Conaway ended his career as a staunch Trump loyalist, voting the way Trump wanted 99% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.

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House Republicans seem to be running for the exit over the past week. On July 24, Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan decided to retire after only two terms. The very next day, Rep. Pete Olson, a fellow Texan, announced his retirement. Then on July 26, Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama, one of only 13 Republican women in the House, declared she was calling it quits.

This week started with Utah's Rep. Rob Bishop announcing on Monday he won't try again in 2020, leading to Conway's announcement being the fifth in a week.

After Bishop's announcement, Republican operatives expressed reservations about their chances of regaining the majority in 2020.

"Between people finding themselves having to actually work hard for the first time in their long, lazy careers and members who came in in the majority and now hate life in the minority, it's just getting started," one GOP consultant told the Hill.

With all the spate of retirements rolling in, one Republican House member told the Hill "the odds are against us retaking the majority."

A second Texas Republican hanging it up is sure to energize House Democrats, who are eyeing the state for multiple opportunities to flip seats from red to blue. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the arm of the Democrats focused on the House, opened an office in Austin earlier this year and is targeting six districts in the state.

The DCCC tried the gambit of opening a field last election cycle as well. Before the 2018 midterms, the DCCC opened an office in Orange County, California, with the hopes of flipping 10 Republican seats — more than half the Republican delegation from the state — from red to blue. In early 2018, a couple of Republicans from California announced they were not seeking reelection, a similar pattern to Texas this year.

And once all the votes were counted, Democrats had flipped seven of their California targets.

In 2020, the DCCC is hoping to make their 2018 strategy work deep in the heart of Texas.

"Republicans across Texas are terrified of losing their seats in 2020," Avery Jaffe, a DCCC spokesperson, said in a statement after Olson announced his retirement. "As the DCCC 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."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.