“My amazing wife, Nancy, has carried the lion’s share of parenting our two great children,” the six-term lawmaker said. “Her mother has suffered health issues that require more care and attention. As someone who has long advocated for policies that put our families first, it’s time for me to take my own advice and be a more consistent presence to help our family.”
Olson’s move comes one day after Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) announced he would not run for reelection, voicing frustration that “rhetoric overwhelms policy” in Washington.
Since 2009, Olson, 56, has represented Texas’ 22nd congressional district, a minority-majority district that is one of the most diverse in the country.
The district, which was drawn to be safe for Republicans, has grown more Democratic in the past few years. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the Sugarland-area district in Houston’s suburbs by 25 points; four years later, Donald Trump won it by just eight points.
In 2018, Democrat Sri Kulkarni, a former diplomat, gave Olson an unexpectedly close race, coming just 4 points short as Republicans lost ground in Texas’s cities and suburbs -- and after Olson accused Kulkarni of being an “Indo-American carpetbagger.”
Kulkarni, who is running again for the seat, had raised $415,249 as of the last FEC filing period this month, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had put an expected Olson-Kulkarni rematch on its 2020 target list.
Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, thanked Olson in a statement and predicted that his district “will remain a Republican district for the foreseeable future.”
The DCCC countered that Texas Republicans “are terrified of losing their seats in 2020 and we can’t blame Pete Olson for choosing to retire instead of being thrown out of office next year.”
“One of the most diverse districts on the battlefield, Democrats can win this open seat and we look forward to Congressman Olson spending his golden years deep in the heart of Texas,” DCCC spokesperson Avery Jaffe said in a statement.
Olson has been among the most conservative members of the House during his time in Congress, although he recently expressed criticism of President Trump’s comment that four minority congresswomen should “go back” to their countries.
“The Tweet President Trump posted over the weekend about fellow Members of Congress are not reflective of the values of the 1,000,000+ people in Texas 22,” Olson tweeted. “We are proud to be the most diverse Congressional district in America. I urge our President immediately disavow his comments.”