For the first time in a generation, Texas’ 8th Congressional District, located north of Houston, will have a new member of congress. Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) announced Wednesday morning that he will be retiring from the position at the end of his term.
“I have an announcement,” Brady said as he addressed The Woodlands Chamber of Commerce, which he led many years ago before launching a political career that ultimately took him to Washington. “I am retiring as your Congressman. This term, my 13th, will be the last.”
Throughout his remarks, Brady was emphatic in his belief in Congress as an institution.
“I’ve noticed that anytime you retire in Washington, D.C. some are eager to assign a motive. So let me tackle those. Is this because I’ve lost faith in a partisan Congress and the political system? Absolutely not,” he said.
“I work with some of the most dedicated people in the nation – talented, hardworking and serious about their responsibilities – in both parties. And after 25 years in the nation’s Capitol I haven’t yet seen a problem we can’t solve or move past. Not one. Especially when we put our best ideas and intentions together.”
Brady also said that blaming Trump was “nonsense”, citing among other accomplishments the tax cuts that were passed under the Trump administration.
Brady did mention that term limits for committee chairs was a factor in his decision, since he is term-limited out as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and would not be able to lead the committee if Republicans re-take the House in 2022.
Brady concluded his announcement on a note of optimism, remarking, “I have faith in our people. I’ve seen up close how remarkable you are, and while I am leaving Congress I am excited about our future.”
Originally from South Dakota, Brady moved to The Woodlands in 1985 to work for the Chamber of Commerce. He was elected to the Texas House of Representative in 1990, for the 15th district, which is currently held by State Rep. Steve Toth (R-Conroe).
Brady ran for congress in 1996 and emerged victorious after a hotly contested primary and and runoff against Dr. Gene Fontenot. After that, Brady coasted to victory in every election until 2016, when Toth challenged him in the primary and nearly forced a runoff. Brady was however able to eke out a victory after spending over $1.5 million.
An invariably affable and charming personality, with a knack for retail politics and winning friends, Brady rose quickly in the ranks of the House Republican Caucus, ultimately replacing Paul Ryan as Chairman of the uber-powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
With the election of Donald Trump and unified Republican control of Washington, Brady was able to achieve the signature accomplishment of his political career: shepherding through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was ultimately signed into law by Trump.
Brady’s departure will leave his position as the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee open, which will be a plum post if the GOP re-takes the House in 2022. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is currently the number two Republican on the committee, and could take Brady’s place. Aides of Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), the current number three, have said he will run for the position.
However, Brady’s announcement will have repercussions in the 8th district far beyond who becomes the senior Republican on Ways and Means. There is no clear successor to inherit his congressional seat, and the field is currently wide open. Numerous ambitious local and state elected officials could make a run for the position, which would in turn leave their own offices open. This “musical chairs” of political offices changing hands would make for a very interesting 2022 election season for the nine counties in the 8th district.
The Forty-Five News has a poll up on our Facebook page of likely contenders to replace Brady. Be sure to vote and let us know who you think it will be!