Politics

Congressman Pete Olson Won’t Run For Re-Election In 2020

Olson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008. Political analyst Nancy Sims tells Houston Matters that the Texas 22nd Congressional District becomes a target for both Democrats and Republicans.

U.S. Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) during a Jan. 2017 event with the Fort Bend Republican Cty. Women’s Club.

EDITOR’s NOTE: This story has been updated with analysis by University of Houston political science lecturer and Houston Matters collaborator Nancy Sims.

Republican Congressman Pete Olson announced on Thursday he will not run for re-election next year.

Olson was first elected in 2008 to represent Texas’ 22nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes parts of Brazoria, Fort Bend and Harris counties. He is currently serving his sixth term.

Olson graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1988, according to his biography, and served as an officer and pilot in the United States Navy in the 1990s.

Currently, Olson is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He also serves on the Energy and Communications and Technology subcommittees.

Olson said in a news release he will not seek a seventh term because he wants to “be a more consistent presence to help our family.

“My constant focus was to strengthen our national security, expand our economy to provide more opportunities for hard-working Texas families, and limit the power of the federal government over our lives and businesses,” Olson said.

University of Houston political science lecturer Nancy Sims told Houston Matters on Friday that Olson’s announcement has triggered a lot of interest. “It was already a targeted race for the Democrats, now it’s a targeted race for the Republicans as well, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the candidates fall out over the next few weeks.” Sims thinks some Texas Republican lawmakers might announce a bid for the GOP nomination for the 22nd Congressional District in the coming days or weeks.

As for the Democratic Party side, Sims said Sri Preston Kulkarni is the most benefited by Olson’s decision not to run in 2020. Kulkarni lost to Olson in the November 2018 election by just five percentage points and Sims noted that “he’s continued to raise money since 2018, so he will be a very strong contender for seeking the Democratic nomination.”

In a statement released following Olson’s announcement, Kulkarni said it’s time “to ensure that we have leadership in Congress that believes in affordable and high-quality medical care, higher wages for working families, and a fair education system.”

Sims also said that to a certain extent Olson’s decision reflects the changing political tendencies in Fort Bend County, influenced perhaps by an increase of the African American, Latino and Asian populations. In 2018, the Democratic candidates, KP George and Brian Middleton, won the races for Fort Bend County Judge and District Attorney, respectively. George was born in India and Middleton is African American.

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