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State Rep. Mark Keough not running for re-election in 2018

State Rep. Mark Keough, a Republican from The Woodlands, announced Wednesday he won't seek a third term in the Legislature.

State Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, reads a letter to state health officials endorsing proposed rules on the burial of …

State Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, is not running for re-election in 2018 and instead vying to become Montgomery County judge. 

“The last two legislative sessions have impressed upon me the critical role county governance plays in the lives of Texan families,” Keough said in a statement Wednesday. “It has also made me reconsider where I have the best opportunity to serve our area."

Keough's House District 15, which includes several conservative suburbs of Houston, is likely to stay in GOP hands. Minutes after Keough's announcement, former state Rep. Steve Toth, another Woodlands Republican, announced he will run for the seat, which he held from 2013-2015. 

Keough's announcement sets him up for a challenge to Craig Doyal, the current GOP county judge who reportedly plans to run for re-election. Doyal and others in the county have been under legal scrutiny, accused of violating the Texas Open Meetings Act.

First elected in 2014, Keough, a pastor, is serving his second term in the House. He is vice chairman of the International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee

Keough won the House seat after Toth declined to run for a second term, instead seeking a promotion to the state Senate. He lost that campaign, as well as a primary challenge last year to U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands.

Keough began this year's session with something of a reversal: After previously supporting House Speaker Joe Straus' challenger for the gavel in 2015, Keough gave a speech seconding Straus’ nomination to lead the chamber again in January. All 150 members ended up voting for Straus as speaker in January.

In March, Keough suffered minor injuries in a car crash while driving to the Texas Capitol.

Keough was slated to attend a bill-signing ceremony Wednesday morning for child welfare reform legislation, but Gov. Greg Abbott said the lawmaker could not make it.

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