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State Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, who bucked his party on a number of major issues this year, announced Wednesday he will not seek reelection.
In an email to constituents, Larson said he was following through on legislation he has repeatedly introduced that imposes a term limit of 12 years on any elected official at the state level.
"As a strong proponent of term limits, will follow the limits we previously proposed in this legislation," Larson wrote.
Larson was first elected in 2010 to represent House District 122 in the San Antonio area.
He had been increasingly expected to pass on a 2022 reelection campaign as he grew disillusioned with his party and potential GOP candidates lined up for his seat. Larson was the only Republican to oppose the GOP's priority elections bill that led House Democrats to break quorum this summer. He also was the only Republican to vote against legislation that Republican supporters argued would crack down on the teaching of critical race theory in Texas classrooms. More recently, he filed a long-shot bill during the current special session to provide rape and incest exemptions for Texas' new near-total abortion ban, despite previously voting for it.
Larson, a former San Antonio City Council member and Bexar County commissioner, has also stood mostly alone inside the House GOP for his support for expanding Medicaid, filing legislation to do so during this year's regular session.
Larson has come to regularly use his Twitter account to lament the partisan divisions at the Capitol, and he has advocated for ending America's two-party political system and floated a "Texas Independent Party."
Larson was a top ally of former House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio — and has remained an admirer, publicly encouraging the moderate Straus last month to run for statewide office. Straus praised Larson's tenure in a tweet, saying he has "been willing to speak difficult truths and stand on principle, no matter which way the winds were blowing."
This year was not the only time Larson found himself at odds with his party. Abbott battled to unseat him in 2018 as the governor sought to make examples out of a trio of House Republicans who had fallen out of favor with him. Larson easily defeated the primary challenger whom Abbott had backed.
Larson's decision not to run for reelection opens a Republican-leaning, sprawling district north of San Antonio, and a few candidates were circling the seat before the incumbent's retirement announcement. Nico LaHood, the former Bexar County district attorney, had already said he is running in the GOP primary for HD-122. Elisa Chan, a former San Antonio City Council member, had formed an exploratory committee for the primary and announced a campaign after Larson revealed his decision. And Mark Dorazio, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee and former Bexar County GOP chair, has filed paperwork with the Texas Ethics Commission indicating his interest in the seat.
Within hours of Larson's announcement Wednesday, San Antonio businessman Adam Blanchard launched a GOP primary campaign for the seat, saying the "time is right for a proven job creator who will get results." Blanchard swiftly received the endorsement of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the influential tort reform group.
Chris Fails, the primary challenger whom Abbott backed against Larson in 2018, said on Twitter that he would not run again next year and would instead support Dorazio.
In his email to constituents, Larson noted that the boundaries of HD-122 are set to "significantly" shift due to redistricting, spreading more into the northwest suburbs of San Antonio. However, Larson remains a resident of the proposed new district, according to the Texas Legislative Council.
Disclosure: Texans for Lawsuit Reform has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.