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So Long, Farewell: The Retiring Republican Legislators

It’s a hard job being a Texas legislator, especially now that we seem locked in an endless series of special sessions. Several of them have announced they’ll be leaving Austin. Here’s a roundup of who has had enough of the legislature.

State Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney)

Sanford has served in District 70 since 2013, spreading his time between Austin and as pastor of the Cottonwood Creek Church. The district is a solidly Republican stronghold, and Stanford has not faced serious competition in either the primaries or general election in his time. This was supposed to end in 2022 when Jim Herblin, a certified public accountant from Prosper, announced he would challenge Stanford in the primary.

Herblin, who has previously unsuccessfully run for State Senate, condemned Sanford for not being conservative enough despite Sanford sponsoring most major Republican priority legislation in the past session.

“[Sanford] has been in office almost 10 years,” he said in his announcement. “He is Chairman of the Republican Caucus Policy Committee, yet his priorities do not reflect the voters’ top concerns. It is time for new leadership.”

It’s likely that Herblin, who has received the endorsement of 70 percent of GOP precinct chairs, could put up a major fight against Saanford. The representative himself seems to feel that his place in the legislature has come to an end, citing the “seasonality” of Texas’ political needs. He also plans to spend more time with his family.

“Life also has its season, and Shelly and I are thrilled to now be in a new season as grandparents,” he said in a statement. “Even more exciting, our second grandchild is expected to arrive soon. In the midst of changing life seasons and a personal evaluation of priorities, I have made the prayerful decision to not file for re-election.”

State Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall)

It was something of a shock when Paddie, who chairs the powerful State Affairs Committee, announced he wouldn’t run for re-election. He has represented District 9 since 2013 and had previously indicated he would seek another term in 2022. Paddie was one of the Republicans pushing for electrical grid reform in the current session, something that has had extremely mixed results and may have contributed to the representative’s frustration. 

In a statement, Paddie said he remains committed to public service but feels that the moment is right to “allow my East Texas colleagues to spend time fighting for our values instead of having to make some of the tough choices required.” Like Stanford, he says he wants to spend more time with his family.

State Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston)

Like Paddie, Murphy looked ready to fight for his seat again in District 133 in the midterms. The scrappy Republican has already fought back from a loss in 2008 to reclaim his seat and go on to chair the GOP Caucus and Higher Education Committee. Just months after announcing he was running again, he says instead he will retire. 

Murphy was vague in his announcement of why he was moving on from public service and said only that he was “just looking forward to life’s next great opportunity.”

The absence of Murphy, who often ran unopposed in the Republican primary since 2011, has already drawn one big name into the fight. Emilio “Mano” DeAyala, the Chairman of the Hispanic Republicans of Texas, has announced that he will try for the seat. DeAyala is a well-known Houston business figure, and likely to be the next person to represent the district. Democrats have lost by double digits the last two cycles, making DeAyala almost a shoe-in.

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Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner is an award-winning freelance journalist, the author of The Rook Circle, and a member of The Black Math Experiment. He lives in Houston where he spends most of his time investigating corruption and strange happenings. Jef has written for Houston Press, Free Press Houston, and Houston Chronicle.


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