DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson revealed that her announcement on Saturday, Nov. 20 that she was retiring, came very close to going the other way.
“Actually, when it was first thought of me doing it, I was going to be talking about remaining. I had been pressured so hard by so many leaders to please reconsider and run one more time,” said. U.S. Rep. Johnson.
During an interview Tuesday afternoon in her district office in Dallas, Congresswoman Johnson said she changed her mind from running for re-election to retiring just four days earlier.
“Even my staff, we were all enthusiastically getting ready and designing cards, calling volunteers and working for the campaign and then about 10 o’clock Tuesday night, I text my Chief of Staff and Outreach Director here and said Saturday will be my retirement statement and it really kind of shocked them too. I had two or three days to explain that in my heart and soul, I felt my time had come.”
Johnson said it was a combination of things: the aging process setting in – she’s turning 86 next month – and the battle among Democrats over President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better social spending programs.
“You begin to question the why when you get to a point where our party is not as together as you’d like it to be, like you’ve experienced.”
She said she’s the second oldest member of the House after Republican Congressman Don Young of Alaska, who’s 88.
By the time Johnson leaves office at the end of 2022, she will have served in District 30 for 28 years.
She said she didn’t want to overstay her welcome by the voters. “I just thought I would like to go out at a time when perhaps people still wanted me to be there instead of kicking me out through the votes.”
During her announcement in Dallas before hundreds of people Saturday, Congresswoman Johnson said she would endorse a candidate to succeed her, and that she preferred a woman who’s qualified. “The person I do have in mind at this time is a state lawmaker. I’m looking for someone who has fresh ideas, with the energy and interest to do their homework, and to work across the aisle. I feel that if I don’t advocate for a woman, who will?”
She wouldn’t name the lawmaker but said that candidate could make their announcement Wednesday.
Johnson said, “We talked just this morning and I feel pretty good about making that decision. I didn’t make a decision lightly. It’s not based on friendship. It’s not based on longevity of acquaintance.”
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Johnson became the first African-American woman to be elected in Dallas County, and the first nurse to be elected to Congress and the Texas House and Senate before that.
She’s the first African-American woman to serve as Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
She reflected on her achievements and milestones as she thought about her three great-grand-daughters. “When I look at those three faces, and see those bright, shining eyes I really do feel that I’ve been a part of making this a better world for them.”