Longtime Rep. Sam Johnson, Texas Republican, announced Friday that he will not run for re-election next year.
“After much prayer, I have decided I will not seek re-election to serve the 3rd District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement posted to his campaign website. “This will be my final term in the appropriately named ‘People’s House.’”
Mr. Johnson, 86, entered Congress in 1991. An Air Force veteran, he was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam for nearly seven years, including a stint at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” after he and his co-pilot were shot down.
“Of course my faith is what sustained me throughout my darkest days in captivity,” he said. “I am grateful to a loving God who spared and redeemed my life and provided this wonderful opportunity to serve others.”
In his note, he thanked the public for supporting him during times of personal loss and noted that his wife, Shirley, passed away about a year ago.
Mr. Johnson said he wanted to give his successor ample time to think about running for office and that he has “boundless hope” for America.
He also mentioned helping create the Republican Study Committee, an influential coalition of conservative members of the House.
An outpouring of support and praise started almost immediately after Mr. Johnson’s announcement.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, called Mr. Johnson “my hero.”
“Sam’s retirement from this House is sad news, but we can take heart today in all this man — the greatest living man I know — has done and given to our country,” said Mr. Ryan.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, said the House is losing “an irreplaceable public servant” and a “national hero.”
“What he experienced would have broken and bred bitterness in other men,” said Mr. McCarthy. “But as long as I’ve had the honor to know him, Sam has been strong and joyful.”