Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson ending decades in Congress

FILE - Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, makes comments as she introduces State Senator Royce West at a rally where West announced his bid to run for the US Senate in Dallas, Monday, July 22, 2019. Johnson says she wont seek re-election in 2022 after 30 years in Congress. The 85-year-old trailblazing Black Democrat made her announcement Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File) (Tony Gutierrez, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DALLAS – U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, a trailblazing Black Democrat in Texas who has served in Congress for nearly 30 years, announced Saturday that she will not seek reelection next year.

Johnson, 85, is a political fixture in her hometown of Dallas, where early in her career she became the first Black woman to serve the city in the state Senate since Reconstruction.

She grew up in the segregated South and was elected in 1992 to Congress, where she became the first Black woman to chair the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

“There is a good reason I should stay: I am a personal friend to the president, I have gained some respect and influence," Johnson said during her announcement. But she said plans to keep a promise she made after winning the Democratic primary in March that her current term would be her last.

“As of January (2022) I will step down. I will retire,” Johnson said.

Although Democrats are in danger of losing their House majority next year, Johnson would have been able to keep winning her district under new congressional maps signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in October.

Her retirement is likely to attract a rush of hopeful successors.

Johnson said she would eventually endorse a successor for her safely Democratic seat, but not yet.

“My goal is to look for a female that is qualified,” Johnson said.