U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith to retire

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Congressman Lamar Smith speaks to members of College Republicans at the UTC on Feb. 15. Smith is among the Austin representatives who owes his constituents greater access.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Lopez | Daily Texan Staff

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, whose district encompasses most of West Campus, will retire from Congress and not seek re-election in 2018, according to The Texas Tribune.

Smith has spent 30 years in Congress after first being elected in 1986, and he is the chairman U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Under current House rules, Smith is also reaching his six-year term limit as chairman of the committee.

In the past, Smith also chaired the ethics and judiciary committees in the House.

Smith’s district covers the majority of West Campus and reaches all the way south and east of Austin to San Antonio and Fredericksburg.

The Tribune also reported that Smith wrote in an email that this felt like a good time to pass on the district to someone else. Even so, Smith said there was still much left to do in the 14 months remaining in his current term, according to the Tribune.

Smith also cited his grandchildren, with one newborn and another on the way, as part of his reason for leaving Congress, according to the Tribune.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Smith was known for his denials of climate change, including the rejection of a 2014 Obama administration climate report. Smith said the report was intended to “frighten” Americans into believing any abnormal weather was a result of climate change, according to the Morning News.

U.S. Representatives Sam Johnson, R-Plano, and Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, are also giving up their seats in the Texas Congressional delegation. Johnson, who is 87, is retiring, and O’Rourke is planning to run against Republican Senator Ted Cruz in 2018.

The filing period for the March primary elections ends on Nov. 11. Five Democrats and one Republican, Eric Burkhart, have already declared that they are running for Smith’s seat in 2018.