TEXAS, USA — U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, a longtime fixture in the Texas delegation, is planning to retire from Congress at the end of his term, Politico has reported.

His retirement is a major blow to the state's clout within the Republican conference. Conaway is a well-regarded figure on Capitol Hill and has served as chairman of the House Ethics and Agriculture committees. He is the ranking member of the Agriculture Committee. His decision is somewhat of a surprise to some delegation insiders; Conaway was on track to take GOP leadership of the House Intelligence Committee in the coming years.

Conaway reached the pinnacle of his career last year, when he moved the massive farm bill spending package through Congress. He also led the House investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. And as a member and certified public accountant, he uncovered a massive fraud scandal at the House campaign arm during the 2008 cycle.

He has served in Congress since 2005. His West Texas district, which includes Midland and San Angelo, is heavily Republican and is all but certain to stay in the Republican column next year. He won reelection against Democrat Jennie Lou Leeder by more than 60 percentage points in 2018.

This is the second official retirement in the delegation this cycle, and more are expected to come before the December filing deadline.

U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, announced his retirement last week. U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Heath, may end up vacating his East Texas seat with his recent nomination to be U.S. director of National Intelligence.

Patrick Svitek contributed reporting.