Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson, Longest-Serving Texas Rep, Announces Retirement

Screenshot via NBC Dallas-Fort Worth

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Democratic Texas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, the dean of her state’s congressional delegation, announced Saturday that she will not run for re-election in 2022.

“There is nothing more satisfying to an elected official for people of real character and accomplishment to plead for you to run for office one more time,” Johnson said at a press conference held at Kirkwood Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

Johnson had previously said that the 117th Congress would be her last. She was first elected to Congress in 1993, and also served in the Texas state legislature and the Carter administration. At 85 years old, Johnson is the second-oldest member of the House, and the oldest Democrat. (RELATED: Longtime Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier Announces Retirement)

“I have gone back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, but as of January of next year, I will step down, I will retire, and I will recommend who I feel is best to follow me,” she said, adding that she would look for a female candidate to support. Johnson declined to endorse a candidate at her press conference.

Johnson was the first nurse elected to Congress, and became the first African-American woman to serve as chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in 2019. She was also the first African-American head of psychiatric nursing at the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“I have been loved, and kept close, and kept in touch. I have a loving family that backs me up,” she added, flanked by her extended family, including three great-grandchildren. “It’s not just a title, it’s a job.”

“I wanted to deliver. I thought about the district, and all the needs that it had.”

Johnson is the sixteenth House Democrat to decline to run for re-election in 2022, and the tenth to retire from elected office entirely. Democrats are expected to hold her south Dallas seat, which she won by 59 points in 2020. Johnson is also the second committee chair to retire, following Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth of the Banking Committee.