Pete Sessions announces plan to run for open Bill Flores seat

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas. (File)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Former Republican Congressman Pete Sessions announced Thursday he plans to run for the congressional seat vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Flores.

Sessions, who lost reelection in his Dallas-area district last year, announced his plans at the county party headquarters in Waco.

Sessions said he will focus on improving trade with Canada and Mexico, in addition to improving the state's transportation infrastructure.

"I am a conservative republican. I believe that conservative republican politics make a difference," said Sessions, "These policies are alive and well today. All you have to do is go anywhere in Texas and you will see a vibrant economy."

The Texas Tribune reported Sessions flirted with running for his previous 32nd District seat, which is about 80 miles north of Flores' more conservative 17th District.

The initial reaction "has not been positive," Flores told The Texas Tribune last week. "Pete is a friend of mine, but I wish he'd called me first," said Flores, "I could have provided some valuable feedback to him."

When asked by KWTX if he was relocating to Waco to run in a less competitive district, Session brought up his ties to the Waco area. Session said he grew up in Waco and his grandchildren attended Baylor University.

"I have been in and out of Waco for years and years," said Sessions, "It is true that I lived in Dallas and moved around, but it was by invitation that I came down. There was no real candidate, or any, in this race at the time we decided to do it."

According to the Texas Tribune, the 17th District is a much safer Republican district compared to Sessions' previous 32nd District in the Dallas area. Sessions lost his seat last year to Dallas Democrat Colin Allred.

"If anybody thinks this (running in the 17th) is easy, they need to rethink that," Sessions said Thursday.

Not many Republicans have declared for the 17th District seat since Flores announced his retirement. The Texas Tribune reported republican Trent Sutton formally announced his campaign with a message for Sessions.

"I have met some of the other local individuals considering a run, and I can assure you, TX-17 has no shortage of talented, service-minded leaders," Sutton said in a statement. "With all due respect Mr. Sessions, we got this."

Sessions said he plans to relocate to Waco soon, but will represent the entire district. "I want Wacoans to know I believe in them. I am a person who deeply believes in them. I grew up here. I know many people here," said Sessions.