With Eight Members Retiring, Texas Will Lose Clout in Congress

The primary elections haven't even been held yet, but already we are looking at the biggest turnover ever in the Texas Congressional delegation coming in 2018, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Corpus Christi Congressman Blake Farenthold's announcement on Thursday that he will not seek a third term, makes him the eighth member of the state's 36 member House delegation to pull himself out of the running for re-election.  And, if members lose in the primary or general elections, that number will increase.

Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University, the dean of Texas political analysts, tells News Radio 1200 WOAI the impact of this change can't be underestimated, largely because so many of the lawmakers who are leaving, from San Antonio's Lamar Smith to Dallas' Joe Barton, chair powerful committees.

"When a Texan chairs a committee of the Congress, that means that committee will not even consider bills that would be detrimental to Texas," he said.

Jillson says the current delegation, which is one of the most experienced in Congress, has managed to do much to protect the state's interests over the years, by looking after the state's oil and gas industry, protecting military installations, and  guarding Texas against federal intrusion.

"Losing a number of senior members in the same year, that does reduce clout, because you'll have a bunch of new people who are just learning how to be members of Congress."

Since everything in Congress is based on seniority, Jillson says losing such experienced Congress members is certain to reduce the state's clout on the national stage.

He says it also provides an opening for Democrats to make inroads in several of the more competitive districts, especially at a time when the Democratic Party has new life thanks to the unpopularity of President Trump and the party's morale-building victory in this week's Alabama Senate race.

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