Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout.
Longtime Republican State Rep. Larry Phillips announced Monday he will not be seeking re-election to the District 62 seat. His term is set to expire in early 2019.
Phillips, who has represented Grayson County and Fannin County since 2003 and Delta County since 2013, is chairman of the lower chamber’s Insurance Committee and is a former chairman of the Transportation Committee, Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.
“At the end of this term, it will have been 16 years,” Phillips said of his state political career. “It’s been an honor to serve District 62, but there comes a time when life changes with family and career and this is a good time for me not to seek re-election.”
In his time as a state lawmaker, Phillips said he is most proud of his work to support the open-carry rights of gun owners and to improve public education, transportation and access to mental health resources. He said the decision not to run again will allow him to spend more time with his wife and children, and turn his professional focus to his law firm.
Following the 85th legislative session, which saw considerable tension between the House and Senate and fierce debate over the rights of the transgender and immigrant communities, Phillips said lawmakers still have major issues to address.
“We need to address how we fund our schools and with that, property taxes,” Phillips said. “I also think the hurricane is going to take up quite a bit of time this next session.”
Two republican candidates — Kevin Couch and Brent Lawson — have formally announced their intention to run for the vacant position.
Couch is a former Sherman City Council member and co-owner of the CBC Creative marketing agency. After serving two years of this term, Couch stepped down from his city council position in August to focus on his candidacy and has described himself as a conservative who will work to support security efforts along the Texas-Mexico border, reform property taxes and support a limited government.
Lawson is an electrical engineer from Van Alstyne and Grayson County Republican Party precinct chair. His website describes him as a “constitutional conservative” with an emphasis on individual liberties and limited government.
But Phillips said he intends to support Grayson County Republican Party Chairman Reggie Smith, who had not formally announced his candidacy for House District 62 as of Monday afternoon, for the position. A call seeking comment from Smith wasn’t immediately returned Monday.
“I think he’s got the right intellect and personality to be successful for our district,” Phillips said of Smith.
Despite his endorsement of Smith, Phillips offered advice to any candidates who pursue the position he has held for more than a decade.
“Keep your word and vote your district,” Phillips said. “And voting your district means you need to listen to your district.”