Presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX-14) announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election to the House in 2012 regardless of how his long-shot presidential campaign turns out. Mr. Paul was originally elected to the House of Representatives in April 1976, winning a special election from his southeastern Texas suburban/rural combination seat. He then went on to lose the regular election later that year to Democrat Bob Gammage, as Democratic presidential nominee Jimmy Carter carried Texas against President Gerald Ford. Two years later, Mr. Paul defeated Rep. Gammage and held onto the seat until 1984, when he vacated it to run unsuccessfully for the Senate. He returned to the House in 1996 from the Victoria-anchored seat, just southwest of his previous district. He defeated Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Greg Laughlin in the latter’s first primary election as a member of the GOP. Mr. Paul has held the seat ever since.
The new redistricting plan took large portions of Rep. Paul’s current 14th district and moved it to the new 27th CD, thus giving freshman Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) more Republican territory. This takes the new 14th closer to Houston and changes the rural complexion of the seat, making it more suburban and Democratic, though it still should elect a Republican in virtually every election. With the Victoria portion of the seat now removed, the new 14th encompasses part of Paul’s home county of Brazoria, then moves further northward to gain parts of Galveston and Jefferson Counties (Beaumont), a region that has never been particularly kind to Republicans. In an open seat situation, Democrats chances of winning improve.
Since Mr. Paul is announcing his plans long before the December filing deadline, Republicans will have every opportunity to find a candidate that has appeal across the political spectrum. The new 14th district, even as a 2012 open seat, is still decidedly Republican, though competitive, but the eventual GOP nominee will get a bump in a region where President Obama is not likely to perform well.
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