Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who has represented Texas in Congress for almost 30 years, announced that she will retire in January 2023 on Saturday, reports the Washington Post. Johnson is the latest long-serving, high-ranking Democrat to retire ahead of what is shaping up to be a difficult 2022 election for the party.
At an event attended by her family and supporters, Johnson formally announced that she would not be seeking reelection. Recently, there has been speculation by some that she could have a change of heart as Democrats face tough opposition from Republicans in the midterms. In her speech, she spoke honestly about the struggles she had before coming to her final decision.
“I have gone back and forth … the whole time because of the pleading and the asking, but as of January … year after next, I will step down,” Johnson said.
“There is a good reason I should stay: I am a personal friend to the president, I have gained some respect and influence,” she added.
“There is no Texan in the history of this state who has brought more home, and I am proud,” she continued.
With her decision, Johnson is now the 16th Democrat who’s not seeking reelection.
Before working in public service, Johnson was the first Black female chief psychiatric nurse at the VA hospital in Dallas. According to her office, she was the first nurse to be elected to the Texas House of Representatives, in 1972, and again in 1986 to the Texas Senate.
Johnson was the first Black woman to serve Dallas in the state Senate since Reconstruction and was the first woman and first Black chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Tributes to Johnson came from both sides of the political spectrum.
Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.), who served with Johnson on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee as a ranking member, said in a statement, “There is no one I would rather have as my counterpart across the aisle.”
“EBJ, as I affectionately call her, is a true public servant and she cares deeply about supporting American science,” his statement continued. “While we don’t always agree on the best way to do that, we are usually able to find common ground and work together to pass strong, bipartisan policies. She’s an old-school legislator who cares more about results than headlines, and I respect that deeply.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement that Johnson “has been a dedicated and highly effective leader on behalf of Dallas area families and the entire nation for her thirty years in the Congress and nearly 50 years in public service.....Her leadership and friendship will be missed by many in the Congress.”