In a surprise move to many constituents, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) announced on social media that he will not seek re-election. The largest Republican delegation in Congress, Texas, is facing some serious change. This announcement was the third in a week from Texas. As it happened, I heard Poe speak to a group of Republican women in Houston Monday morning before he caught a flight back to Washington and he gave no clue that this was coming just the next day.
Other Congressional Republicans from Texas not seeking re-election are Rep. Lamar Smith, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, and Rep. Sam Johnson. Smith and Hensarling are both term-limited out of their committee chairmanships and Johnson is one of the oldest members of Congress. Poe battled leukemia last year but says he has beaten the disease.
Poe was the guest speaker during the Memorial West Republican Women monthly meeting Monday. He was his usual optimistic, engaging self. He was eager to get back to Washington to “save the country”, as he refers to his work in Congress. I saw no indication that he would announce his retirement. He spoke about the tax reform bill work on Capitol Hill and of the new direction President Trump is taking in dealing with the threats coming from North Korea.
The Chairman of the Terrorism Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Poe said North Korea is a greater threat to America than Iran. “Lil’ Kim means it when he says he wants to destroy the United States,” he said. He supports President Trump’s decision to no longer allow North Korea to blackmail the U.S. for any more money. Poe spoke of his trips overseas to military bases and of his appreciation of our military. “I have seen it. The United States has the best military ever seen in the world.” He expressed disappointment over the recent verdict in the Bergdahl case. Half jokingly, Poe said, “Give him back to the Taliban.” A constituent from his district was killed in Bergdahl’s search.
When asked about recent criticisms coming from the former presidents Bush toward President Trump, Poe said, “Republicans are our own worst enemies. The enemy is among us. It is a big mistake in the party to violate Reagan’s 11th commandment.”
Filing for next year’s primary begins Saturday. Given that, the retirements are coming on short notice for possible Republican candidates to test the waters and jump in.
Are more retirements coming? As this article from the Texas Tribune mentions, tongues are wagging.
Rumors ran rampant on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning about more possible Texas retirements. Nearly every member over the age of 50 surfaced in highly speculative retirement chatter in the Texas GOP political class. Furthermore, the Texas GOP consultant class privately buzzed about a future in the minority and whether that scenario could goad more Texans to quit.
I wish Rep. Poe well and thank him for his service to Texas and America.
The original article was edited to correctly reflect the name of Sam Johnson.