House Democrat Filemon Vela Officially Steps Down Before End of Term

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) has officially stepped down from his seat in the House of Representatives in order to pursue a job in lobbying, further narrowing Democrats’ thin control over the lower chamber.

The announcement of Vela’s resignation was read on the House floor on Thursday evening, and went into effect at midnight on Friday.

Vela, who was first elected to Texas’ 34th congressional district in 2012, will take a lobbying job with Akin Gump, the largest lobbying firm in the United States.

“The timing now, with just nine months left in the term,” Vela told Forbes. “I’m just ready to go.”

Vela has been planning to leave Congress for some time. In January, he filed papers with the House Ethics Committee recusing himself from all matters related to Akin Gump.

Though Vela’s impending retirement has been long in coming, the swiftness with which he decided to leave office has left some would-be opponents frustrated, and Vela has been accused of “bailing on his constituents.”

After the announcement of his impending retirement became official, Marya Flores, a GOP contender for the seat, posted photos to Twitter showing that Vela’s office was not accepting visitors.

“Welcome to the Office of Congressman Filemon Vela! At the moment, we are not accepting visitors,” said the letter, attached to Vela’s door.

Commenting on the photo, Flores said “[Vela] makes it a formality that he’s bailing on his constituents. His office is closed anyway.”

Once Vela leaves, the seat will be up for grabs in a special election, and Flores said that she will be a challenger in the upcoming battle.

In a statement, Flores said, “Filemon Vela is abandoning us while we have a crisis on our border and families can’t afford groceries and gas because prices are so high.

“I will never abandon our community and will absolutely be a candidate in any special election for Texas’ 34th District,” Flores added. “I look forward to flipping this seat and bringing our conservative South Texas values of faith, family, and freedom to Washington.”

Vela’s departure will slim down Democrats’ already-thin majority in the House, where just a few defections from House Democrats can derail legislation. If Flores or another Republican candidate manages to flip the district, it will be a blow for Democrats.

Both Republicans and Democrats in Texas’s 34th district held their primary elections at the beginning of March, but Vela did not compete for the nomination.

Democrat Vincente Gonzalez easily defeated primary challengers with 64.7 percent of the vote. The closest Democrat challenger, Laura Cisneros, won 23.4 percent of the vote. On the GOP side, Flores won 60.5 percent of the vote compared to the next closest GOP challenger’s 21.5 percent.

With Vela leaving office well before the 2022 midterms, the Texas governor will need to call a special election to fill the vacancy.

During the special election, competitors from both parties will be pooled together on a single ballot. If one candidate receives a majority of the vote, they will be elected. If there is no majority, the top two competitors will head to a runoff.

Though Flores is the presumptive GOP frontrunner, it is not yet clear who will participate in the election on the Democrat side.

Vela is the most recent in a long line of Democrat retirees.

Amid skyrocketing gas prices, supply chain shortages, and rapidly increasing inflation, over 30 Democrats have said that they will not run in the 2022 election, including prominent figures like House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), causing some observers to expect a major GOP windfall later this year.

Joseph Lord


Joseph Lord is a congressional reporter for The Epoch Times.

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