Longtime Texas Rep. Sam Johnson, who has served in Congress since 1991, said Friday he won’t run for re-election next year.
“After much prayer, I have decided I will not seek re-election to serve the Third District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018,” Johnson, 86, said in a statement. “This will be my final term in the appropriately named ‘People’s House.'”
The 3rd District in Texas has been a safe haven for Republicans since the late 1960s, suggesting the race to replace Johnson could draw a crowd. Among them, according to two Republican operatives, is state Sen. Van Taylor, an Iraq war veteran.
One Washington-based Republican familiar with candidate recruitment also mentioned state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, Collin County Judge Keith Self and former state Sen. Florence Shapiro as potential candidates.
None responded to requests for comment on Friday.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who served with Johnson on the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement Friday that he considers Johnson his “hero.”
“Sam’s retirement from this House is sad news, but we can take heart today in all this man—the greatest living man I know—has done and given to our country,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “I will cherish working alongside him for the next two years.”