Texas Rep. Filemon Vela decides against reelection bid

Democrat is second member from a border district to retire

Democratic Texas Rep. Filemon Vela in 2019 with Republican Texas Rep. Will Hurd. Vela said Monday he would not seek reelection, a decision Hurd made in 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Democratic Texas Rep. Filemon Vela in 2019 with Republican Texas Rep. Will Hurd. Vela said Monday he would not seek reelection, a decision Hurd made in 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted March 22, 2021 at 12:40pm

Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela said Monday he will not seek reelection in 2022 from a southern Texas district that Republicans are targeting. 

Vela, 58, is vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. He is the second Democrat representing a district along the border with Mexico to announce retirement this month, as a surge of migrants has threatened to become a major issue in the midterms. Vela's decision was first reported by Axios.

“I will not be seeking reelection to the House of Representatives in 2022," Vela said in a statement. "I will continue to focus on maintaining a Democratic House and Senate Majority in my capacity as a member of Congress and Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, while working diligently for the people I am so grateful to represent."

Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona made a similar announcement on March 12. The National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of the House GOP, said in a statement Monday that Vela and Kirkpatrick would be the first of many to “run for the exits.” 

“Filemón Vela knows Biden’s border crisis will cost him his seat and Democrats their House majority. Texans deserve a congressman who is going to stand up to Biden’s open-border agenda, not defend it,” NRCC spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair said. 

Vela’s 34th District includes a city where migrants have been housed in crowded temporary overflow facilities operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Axios noted in its report. 

Texas is one of several states where population increases will likely mean new congressional districts will be created by a Republican-led legislature later this year. 

Vela, who is in his fifth term, had been floated as a potential nominee for President Joe Biden’s Cabinet. He won his November election by 13 points, down from a 20-point victory in 2018. Biden carried the district by 4 points, according to a data analysis by Daily Kos Elections.