Veteran Texas US Rep. Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio) announced late yesterday that he will bring his 32-year congressional career to an end when the current Congress comes to a close. Mr. Smith says he will not seek re-election to his 21st Congressional District that includes part of the San Antonio-Austin corridor and the prime Texas Hill Country region. The Congressman had not been seriously challenged since his first election in 1986, but his district could well be affected if the US Supreme Court upholds the lower court decision declaring adjacent District 35 illegal. Should a re-draw occur, Democrats might find themselves embarking upon a conversion opportunity.
Now that Rep. Smith is retiring, the map drawing process without considering the current incumbent’s constituency concerns would become considerably easier. At this point, particularly since Mr. Smith’s decision to leave office caught the Texas political scene by surprise, no serious potential candidate names are yet surfacing. Six Democrats had already announced their candidacies while Mr. Smith was still presumed to be running, but it is likely that stronger contenders will now come forward, particularly if the district is significantly changed before the 2018 election.
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