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U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson brings her 29-year career serving Dallas County to an end in 2023, after announcing Saturday that she will not seek reelection to Congress.

The 85-year-old Democrat, whose district includes parts of East Dallas, said before the Democratic primary in March that this would be her last term, and she made it official with the announcement.

“I’m proud of what I’ve done,” she said at Kirkwood Temple CME Church. “There is no Texan in the history of this state who has brought more home.”

Johnson first took office in 1972, when she won election to the Texas House of Representatives, becoming the first Black woman ever elected to public office in Dallas. She served in the Texas Legislature until 1977, when Jimmy Carter appointed her to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare as regional director. She was the first African American woman to serve in that role.

She was also the first nurse elected to Congress. She was the first Black woman to serve as chief psychiatric nurse at the Dallas Veterans Administration Hospital. In 1986, she was the first woman from Dallas elected to the Texas Senate. She was also the first female and first Black chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Democrats held the majority in only six years of her nearly three decades in Congress, she said Saturday.

“So you know I had to work across party lines to get things done,” she said. “And as much as we trash the names of some of the Republicans, they were some of the same ones that helped me be successful.”

At least five people have announced their plans to run for Johnson’s seat, Texas’ 30th District, which includes parts of Old East Dallas, Forest Hills, Deep Ellum, Downtown Dallas, parts of Oak Cliff and the southern suburbs: Duncanville, Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Lancaster and Wilmer/Hutchins.

The candidates so far include Shenita Cleveland, Zachariah Manning, Abel Mulugheta, Jessica Mason and Jane Hamilton, Spectrum News reports:

Among the first to come forward was Shenita Cleveland, a small-business owner who ran in the 2020 Democratic primary against Johnson.  Although she came in second, she picked up 13% of the vote to Johnson’s 70%. Dallas natives Zachariah Manning and Jessica Mason have also announced their candidacies. Mason is a Navy veteran and progressive candidate who has worked as a community organizer and activist for affordable housing. Abel Mulugheta has also opened a campaign. Mulugheta was once an aide in Johnson’s office and was later chief of staff and legislative director for Texas State Rep. Rafael Anchía. A day after Johnson’s announcement, Jane Hamilton, President Joe Biden’s Texas state director in the 2020 primary, said she was officially in the race for Texas’ 30th.

Johnson was the 16th Democrat to announce they will not seek reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives this year, the Washington Post reports.


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