Pete Sessions surfaces as potential candidate for open Bill Flores seat

Texas Tribune News

Former Congressman Pete Sessions at an America First Policies event in downtown Dallas in 2018.
Former Congressman Pete Sessions at an America First Policies event in downtown Dallas in 2018.
Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions may be considering a comeback attempt — but not in his old Dallas-based district.

Sessions, who lost reelection last year, has emerged as a potential candidate for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan. Flores has been meeting with potential candidates and sought feedback Tuesday from district activists on a potential Sessions run, according to an email obtained by The Texas Tribune. Flores’ 17th District includes Waco and is about 80 miles south of Sessions’ old 32nd District.

“A former Texas congressman and someone who I consider a friend (Pete Sessions), has been asked by some Republican donors to consider running in TX17 district,” Flores wrote. The incumbent added that “while Pete has not called to ask for my thoughts,” he wanted to get feedback on Sessions’ interest in the race.

Flores emailed the Tribune on Tuesday night that the feedback “has not been positive.”

“Pete is a friend of mine, but I wish he’d called me first,” he said. “I could have provided some valuable feedback to him.”

“The conservative leaders and community leaders in the district who are aware of Pete’s intentions have told me they would prefer someone who currently lives, works, and serves in our communities,” he added. “They strongly believe that we have ample talent here to serve as their next congressman or congresswoman.”

Sessions is not entirely new to Waco. He was born there and grew up there, where his dad, a former FBI director, worked as an attorney in the 1960s.

Still, two delegation insiders concurred that the reaction at this point has been lukewarm.

Sessions’ former campaign aides did not immediately respond to request for comment. However, Republican sources in the district were abuzz with speculation Tuesday night that an announcement could be imminent.

However, two Texas delegation sources described Sessions’ deliberations as still nascent. One source described the activity as “rumblings” while another said an intermediary was feeling out Republicans in the district.

Sessions lost his seat last year to Dallas Democrat Colin Allred, and he has teased a potential bid to reclaim the 32nd District. But some Republicans are uneasy with him running again for that seat — Allred beat him by 7 percentage points — and two GOP candidates have already declared for it and received recognition from the National Republican Congressional Committee.