On Monday, Rep. Kenny Marchant became the sixth House Republican in less than two weeks, as well as the fourth Texan, to announce that he would not seek reelection. Marchant’s decision opens up the 24th District, a once safely red seat that has become increasingly competitive during the last few years.
This constituency, which includes a small portion of the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth as well as most of the suburb of Irving, backed Mitt Romney by a solid 60-38 margin, but Donald Trump took it just 51-45 four years later. The drift to the left continued last year: Beto O’Rourke beat GOP Sen. Ted Cruz 51-48 here, and Marchant won reelection by a shockingly tight 51-48 margin against Jan McDowell, a Democrat who raised barely more than $100,000 during her entire campaign.
It was no accident that, until 2018, Marchant never faced a tight race. Marchant, who held a seat in the state House, had planned to run for Congress in 2002 in the newly drawn up 32nd District, a seat Roll Call described as “tailor-made for him.” However, his plans were delayed when GOP Rep. Pete Sessions unexpectedly decided to run there instead, and Marchant remained in the legislature. Those extra two years, though, may have benefited Marchant, since he was the chair of the Texas House’s congressional redistricting committee in 2003 when the legislature passed the infamous DeLaymander that redrew the state’s congressional districts.
The new map targeted Rep. Martin Frost, a former chair of the DCCC and the House Democratic Caucus, by splitting up his old Dallas seat among several new conservative districts. Frost ended up unsuccessfully running against Sessions in the new 32nd District, while Marchant won his primary for the safely red 24th District with 73% of the vote.
Marchant spent most of his tenure as one of the more low-profile members of Congress: Roll Call even featured him in a 2009 article titled, “The Obscure Caucus: Privileges for Members—Anonymity, Longevity.” Marchant had little to worry about at home after the 2012 round of redistricting, either, at least for most of the decade. That year he did face a primary challenge from former local TV reporter Grant Stinchfield, who had more name recognition than any of his previous foes, but Marchant won 68-32.
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