Eddie Bernice Johnson is the dean of the Texas congressional delegation. Credit: Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

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Longtime U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, announced Saturday she is not running for reelection after serving nearly three decades in Congress.

“I have gone back and forth … the whole time because of the pleading and the asking, but as of January … the year after next, I will step down,” Johnson said during an event in Dallas. “I will retire, and let me assure that I will also recommend to you whom I feel is the best to follow me.”

First elected to Congress in 1992, Johnson, 85, is among its most senior members and serves as dean of the Texas delegation. She chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

A former state legislator, Johnson is known for breaking barriers. She was the first Black woman ever elected to public office in Dallas when she won a state House seat in 1972. She went on to become the first registered nurse to ever serve in Congress.

The decision Johnson announced Saturday is consistent with what she told constituents in 2019 — that her current term would be her last. However, since winning reelection last year, she had declined to confirm that, fueling speculation about whether she would reverse herself in recent months.

Democrats began to circle her seat as questions about her 2022 plans persisted. In May, Jane Hope Hamilton, a former top staffer for Joe Biden’s campaign in Texas, launched an exploratory committee for the seat, saying she would run if Johnson chose not to seek reelection. And last month, Abel Mulugheta, the former chief of staff to state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, announced an outright campaign for the seat. Jessica Mason, a Navy veteran and progressive activist, is also running for the Democratic nomination.

Johnson’s 30th District is set to remain one of the bluest congressional districts in the state after redistricting. It will also stay anchored in Dallas, spreading to the southern edge of the namesake county.

The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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