DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – At age 85, Congressman Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas will announce on Saturday, November 20, whether she will call it a career and retire or serve another two-year term next year.
For state senator Royce west of Dallas, who has known her for nearly 50 years, the decision is a big deal. “You’re looking at an institution, an icon, the matriarch of the Democratic party.”
Representative Johnson is the longest-serving congressman from Texas, and her resignation from elected office will mark the beginning of the end of an era.
Senator West said Friday that, depending on what she announces, it could be a political seismic disturbance.
“If she decides to stay, pretty much everything will be status quo. If not, we will see a frenzied struggle of several individuals willing to run for her seat,” Senator West said.
This week, West just filed for reelection for his seat, which Johnson previously held.
So would West consider running for Congress when Johnson retires? “I had to run for re-election because she hadn’t made a decision yet, so I ran for re-election. Of course I’ll take it into consideration.”
Johnson and her office are tight-lipped except for advising on her pending announcement.
dr. Jerry Christian, the Senior Pastor of Kirkwood Temple CME Church in Oak Cliff, said Friday that as many as 500 people could come to church Saturday to hear Congressman Johnson’s decision. “Listen, I have no idea.”
Rep. Johnson became the first nurse to serve in Congress in 1993 and is now the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Christian said: “Personally I would hope she stays because she has experience, she’s in leadership, and as long as her health allows it and she’s strong enough to do it, I see no reason why we try to anoint anyone else. and just push her aside. It’s her choice, it’s her choice, and I will support her in whatever she decides to do.”
Those closest to Congressman Johnson say another important part of her legacy is serving as a mentor to other political leaders in the Dallas area.
Johnson was there when West announced two years ago that he was running for the United States Senate.
He said she inspired him when he met her in the 1970s when she was serving as a state representative. “Those words of encouragement led me to get involved in student politics at UT Arlington.”
Johnson has brought millions, if not billions of dollars to Dallas for DART, infrastructure and education.
Dallas Union Station was named after her in 2019.
Christian said, “She has a great legacy to stand on. She’s been a pioneer.”
West agreed. “You name it, Eddie Bernice Johnson has quietly, quietly done the job she was chosen for.”