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Former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions Announces Campaign For Open Bill Flores Seat

Cooper Neill
The Texas Tribune
U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, speaks during a town hall event in Richardson on March 18, 2017.

Former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions formally launched his campaign Thursday to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, opting against running again in his old Dallas-based district and pressing forward in Flores' 17th District despite some local Republican unease.

"My goal is to work together to restore the Republican majority in the House and maintain our control of the Senate and White House," Sessions said in a news release. "My support for President Trump is unwavering and I will dedicate my time in office to help enact his conservative agenda.”

Sessions was scheduled to hold an announcement event at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the McLennan County GOP headquarters in Waco.

Sessions lost reelection last year to Dallas Democrat Collin Allred, who defeated Sessions by 7 percentage points. He spent months toying with a rematch in the 32nd District until emerging Tuesday as a likely contender for Flores' seat, which is about 80 miles south of the 32nd Congressional District and in more safely Republican territory.

The notion of a Sessions bid for Flores' seat prompted a backlash from some local Republicans in the 17th District. Among those speaking out was Flores himself, who balked at Sessions moving toward a run without consulting the incumbent and who said the feedback from district GOP leaders was "not positive."

"The feedback is that it's insulting to them that someone from outside the district would come in and tell them to stand aside while he attempts to jump to the front of the line," Flores said in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman published Tuesday night.

Sessions said in a Dallas radio interview Thursday morning that Flores made a "very good point" about reaching out ahead of time and suggested that the two had traded calls Wednesday. He also heaped praise on Flores in the radio interview and in a news release Thursday afternoon announcing his run.

"Bill has been an outstanding member from Texas," Sessions said in the news release.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.

Patrick Svitek is a reporter for the Texas Tribune. He previously worked for the Houston Chronicle's Austin bureau. He graduated in 2014 from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He originally is from Fort Wayne, Indiana.