In a surprising announcement, U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas) announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election in 2018.
Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned," Hensarling said in a statement.
Hensarling’s announcement means a wide open Republican primary in Congressional District 5, which includes Garland, Mesquite, southeast Dallas County and stretches south and east from there.
“Hensarling had always been thought of as an aspirant for higher office maybe someone who'd want to be senator or governor or something someday and he may still want to do that but that would be easier to run for from a position of an incumbent house member so his decision to step away from that was a little bit surprising,” said SMU political science professor Matthew Wilson.
Hensarling has been a staunch conservative since getting elected in 2002 and was a powerful leader in the House. He currently chairs the House Financial Services Committee.
"Since my term as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee comes to an end next year, the time seems right for my departure," Hensarling said. "Although I will not be running for reelection, there are 14 months left in my congressional term to continue the fight for individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited constitutional government - the causes for which I remain passionate."
Wilson said it's up in the air what Hensarling does next.
“I think he may be looking at the possibility of making some serious money as a lobbyist or consultant to the financial services industry. Once you've been out of congress for a little while you can start to do that,” Wilson said.