Texas Rep. Conaway, top Republican on Agriculture panel, not seeking reelection

Eight-term congressman to leave open seat in deep red district

Rep. K. Michael Conaway is not seeking reelection in 2020. The top Republican on the Agriculture Committee is term-limited from staying in that position. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Republican Rep. K. Michael Conaway, ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, is planning to retire at the end of his current term, according to GOP sources. 

Conaway’s decision not to seek reelection in 2020, which he is not expected to formally announce until a press conference Wednesday, leaves an open seat in the deep red 11th District, a part of West central Texas that President Donald Trump won by 59 points in 2016.

The eight-term congressman's retirement follows the trend of many GOP committee chairman and ranking members who’ve left Congress after hitting the six-year term limit Republicans impose on committee leaders.

Conaway has served as the top Republican on the Agriculture Committee since 2015 and would not be able to stay in the position come 2020 without obtaining a waiver from the Republican Steering Committee. 

But Conaway likely could have found another leadership role in the Republican Conference if he decided to stay. He’s well-liked by colleagues and has been floated as a dark horse candidate for speaker following the retirements of former Speakers John A. Boehner and Paul D. Ryan.

The second-highest ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Conaway led that panel’s 2017 investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election after then-Chairman Devin Nunes, a California Republican, recused himself. Republicans held the House majority during that investigation. 

Conaway is the sixth Republican this year to announce a decision not to seek reelection. That does not include Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, who recently reiterated his decision to retire after this term — an announcement he first made in 2017.

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

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