Mac Thornberry announces he will not seek re-election in 2020

U.S. Rep. Mac ThornberryElaine Hays
Tim Howsare

Former GOP opponent Elaine Hays announces formation of exploratory committee for District 13

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, who has served citizens of Hutchinson County and the Texas Panhandle since 1994, announced Monday he is not seeking re-election in 2020.
“It has been a great honor to serve the people of the 13th District of Texas as their congressman for the last 25 years,” Thornberry said on his campaign website. “They have given me opportunities to serve the nation in ways I could have never imagined, including as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
“We are reminded, however, that ‘for everything there is a season,’ and I believe that the time has come for a change. Therefore, I will not be a candidate for reelection in the 2020 election.”
On the same day Thornberry made his announcement, one of his former opponents in the 2014 Republican primary, Elaine Hays, announced she has formed an exploratory committee to run for Congress in Texas’ 13th Congressional District.
Hays currently serves on the Amarillo City Council and is a small business owner.
“I want to thank Congressman Mac Thornberry for his years of public service to the people of the 13th District,” Hays said in a press release. “I wish him and his family well. After much prayer and reflection, and with encouragement from my family, friends and neighbors, I have decided to explore running for Congress in the 13th District.
“We need to send someone to Washington who will fight for life, liberty, term limits, a balanced budget, and secure borders. We also need someone who will stand up to the far left in Congress and will fight for the conservative values of the 13th District.”
Thornberry joins five other Texas Republicans in Congress who are not running for re-election — U.S. Reps. Kenny Marchant, Pete Olson, Mike Conaway, Will Hurd and Bill Flores.
Charlotte Martin, president of the Hutchinson County Republican Women, said Monday that Thornberry’s announcement was a surprise to her.
She said the club will likely be discussing Thornberry’s announcement at its monthly meeting on Thursday.
According to an article in the Texas Tribune, many were expecting that Thornberry would retire soon. Thornberry will turn over his post leading the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee in January 2021, thanks to Republican term limits for committee chairmanships.
Kel Seliger, the Republican state senator who represents the Texas Panhandle and the Permian Basin, said Monday he was surprised but had been expecting Thornberry’s retirement.
“He has the best qualities of a good public servant,” Seliger said in a phone interview.
Seliger said he and Thornberry met 30 years ago, but not through politics.
“We lived in the same neighborhood and our wives were both pregnant,” Seliger said. “They would meet and walk every night.”
Both Thornberry and Seliger are part of the “Panhandle Delegation,” a group of elected officials who work together on behalf of the Panhandle.
Seliger said whoever is elected in 2020 will have “very big shoes to fill,” because Thornberry “is very capable and has a lot of integrity and has worked very hard.”
In August, Greg Sagan, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran against Thornberry in 2018, announced he will run for District 13 in 2020.
Sagan told a group of Democrats in Borger that he is “more determined than ever.”
Thornberry continued in his online statement: “I am also grateful to those who have worked on my team over the years — both official and political — each of whom has a servant’s heart and has brought his or her considerable talents to help our work together be as effective as possible. 
“I could not have asked for a better group of employers than the people of the 13th District.  Their faith, common sense, and work ethic, along with a deep patriotism and devotion to our country, have encouraged and motivated me to do my best on their behalf.
“With over a year to go, I will continue to represent the people of the 13th District to the best of my ability.  Our nation faces many difficult challenges, and none of us can relax our efforts to meet and overcome them, whether at home or around the world.”