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Rep. Kenny Marchant joins parade of Texas House retirements, opening up competitive Dallas-area seat

Marchant, who won reelection last fall by 3 points, follows Hurd, Conaway and Olson

Texas Rep. Kenny Marchant is reportedly not seeing a ninth term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 11:45 a.m. Monday | Rep. Kenny Marchant is the latest Texas Republican to decide to retire rather than seek another term in 2020, opening up a competitive seat in the Dallas area.

“I am looking forward to finishing out my term and then returning to Texas to start a new chapter,” Marchant said in a Monday morning statement that thanked his constituents, staff and family. He said he was going to spend more time with his seven grandchildren and “working cattle on my ranch.”

Marchant’s decision was first reported Sunday night by The New York Times. As recently as Friday, Marchant’s team was asserting that the eight-term Republican was running for reelection in the 24th District.

Marchant is the fourth House Republican from Texas to announce his retirement in just over a week. Pete Olson was first, followed by K. Michael Conaway and then Will Hurd.

Marchant won reelection by just 3 points last fall, while President Donald Trump carried his district, which is near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, by 6 points. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated the 24th District race Leans Republican before the news of Marchant’s retirement broke.

A crowded field of Democrats has lined up to run, including the 2018 nominee, accountant Jan McDowell. Others running include Kim Olson, a retired Air Force colonel who was the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner in 2018; lawyer Crystal Fletcher; and school board member Candace Valenzuela.

First elected in 2004, Marchant is the ranking member on the House Ethics Committee. He had $2.2 million in the bank at June 30, the end of the most recent fundraising quarter, and had loaned his campaign $285,000.

Olson has led the Democratic field in the 24th District in fundraising following an eye-catching campaign announcement video. She was honorably discharged from the Air Force, but was fined and pleaded guilty to creating a perception of a conflict of interest regarding contracts for a private security firm during the reconstruction effort in Iraq.

Olson referenced the issue in her announcement video, calling the situation on the front lines when she first got to Iraq a “cluster” and saying that the government couldn’t pay the security detail protecting Americans.

“The warrior in me did what I had to do to get the security team paid and save lives. For that, I was reprimanded,” she said. “But I took full responsibility because I’m an accountable, no-excuse leader. And when it comes to saving lives, it’s a decision I would make again.”

It is not immediately clear who could jump in on the Republican side. But one potential candidate to watch could be former Irving mayor and current Housing and Urban Development official Beth Van Duyne, who has been mentioned as a potential candidate in the nearby 32nd District. Irving is located in Marchant’s district.

The 24th District is among the increasingly diverse suburban districts that Democrats are targeting in 2020. The district saw a six percent growth in its Hispanic population from 2013 to 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting six GOP-held House seats after flipping two suburban seats in 2018. The committee also has a headquarters in Texas.