Former Republican congressman Pete Sessions, who served in the House of Representatives for 11 terms before losing his seat to a Democratic challenger in 2018, announced Thursday that he will seek a return to Congress from another Texas congressional district.
Sessions said he will run to represent Texas' 17th congressional district seat. The incumbent in that district, Rep. Bill Flores, became the fifth Texas Republican lawmaker to retire heading into the 2020 election cycle.
"My goal is to work together to restore the Republican majority in the House and maintain our control of the Senate and White House," Sessions said, according to the Texas Tribune. "My support for President Trump is unwavering and I will dedicate my time in office to help enact his conservative agenda.”
Prominent Republican megadonor Roy Bailey told the Associated Press in a text message that Sessions was motivated to run for office again by "the Democrats move towards impeachment of our duly elected President
The 17th District district runs through Waco, where Sessions was born, and is considered a safe Republican seat. Sessions, the onetime House Republican campaign chief, was defeated in 2018 by Democrat Colin Allred in the 32nd District, which covers the northeastern suburb of Dallas.
Flores appeared to express skepticism about Sessions' run, telling the Austin American-Statesman: "I sent a note out to many of our community leaders and conservative leaders in the district and asked for their feedback on having somebody from outside the district move in to run for the seat. The feedback I got was overwhelmingly negative, and so I was going to share that with Pete if he called, but he didn't call."
Sessions' announcement comes as Texas Republicans work to deal with a string of retirements. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, announced that he would retire on Monday. Thornberry's seat in the state's 13th Congressional District is the sixth GOP-held seat in the state that will be open for the 2020 elections.
Sessions didn't face a Democratic challenger in 2016, but his district voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump.
Two years later, Democrats won Sessions' seat and another near Houston that is now represented by Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, and they're targeting six more they narrowly lost in 2018. All run through suburbs where shifting demographics and an aversion to Trump among educated women are weakening the GOP.
Flores won re-election in 2018 by 15.5 percentage points, while Allred defeated Sessions by 6.5 percentage points.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.