Pete Sessions Wins Texas GOP Run-off in House Comeback Bid


Former Representative Pete Sessions, who was ousted from a Dallas-area district in the 2018 Democratic wave, won a shot Tuesday at a different House seat in November.

The son of the late FBI Director and U.S. District Judge William Sessions was declared the winner by the Associated Press in the Republican runoff in Texas’s 17th Congressional District, an area covering both his childhood home of Waco and College Station.

Sessions, 65, who served 11 terms in Congress, is one of several former House members seeking comebacks in 2020.

The area is now represented by Representative Bill Flores, who is retiring at the end of the term and who had endorsed the other GOP contender, Renee Swann. Sessions is now the favorite to win the solidly Republican district.

In the runoff for the Democratic nomination in that contest, Rick Kennedy, a software engineer defeated David Jaramillo, a former Marine.

Former White House physician Ronny Jackson won the Republican runoff for a seat representing an area of the Texas Panhandle, the AP reported. Jackson, who retired from the Navy as a rear admiral, received the endorsement of a famous patient, President Donald Trump.

Jackson said on Twitter that he had received a congratulatory telephone call from the president after defeating Josh Winegarner, industry affairs director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association.

Trump, in his own Twitter post, praised Jackson “on a big win against a tough and really good opponent.”

The race is to fill the seat now occupied by Representative Mac Thornberry, who is retiring. Thornberry had endorsed Winegarner. Jackson will be the favorite to win the district, which overwhelmingly backed Trump in the 2016 election.

Trump had nominated Jackson to lead the Veterans Affairs Department in 2018, but he withdrew amid allegations of improper behavior and management lapses.

In emerging as the winner in his run-off, Sessions overcame some complications that went beyond criticism from Swann and others that he was a political carpetbagger, even though he had once represented part of the district.

Giuliani Inquiry

Early in the campaign, news accounts depicted him as a peripheral figure -- an “unnamed congressman” -- in investigations of Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his activities involving Ukraine. Last October, a federal grand jury in New York issued a subpoena to Sessions seeking records of his dealings with Giuliani and two indicted business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

Sessions has not been accused of wrongdoing. But Swann has attacked him over news that campaign finance reports showed that he had spent campaign funds on legal defense costs.

Then, in mid-June, the Associated Press reported that Venezuela’s government tried to recruit then-Representative Sessions to broker a meeting with the chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil at the same time it was secretly paying former Florida congressman David Rivera $50 million to keep U.S. sanctions at bay.

Sessions had served stints as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Rules Committee during his 11 terms in the House before he was defeated by a margin of more than 6 percentage points by Colin Allred, a former National Football League player.

While in office, Sessions had weighed bids for top House GOP leadership spots -- including an abbreviated run for House majority leader in 2014. He describes his work in Washington as unfinished.

He also cited his experience in combating Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- he was the NRCC chair behind the House GOP return to power in 2010.

A dozen candidates ran in the initial March 3 GOP primary for the nomination to succeed Flores, but none received more than 50% of the votes. That triggered Tuesday’s runoff between the top two finishers. Sessions and Swann, a political newcomer.

Complicating Swann’s campaign against Sessions was her learning in the final stretch of the campaign that she and her husband had both tested positive for Covid-19, and that she had to quarantine for 10 days.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.