Along with MS-4, TX-17 was the most heavily Republican district in the nation represented by a Democrat, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, which rates it R+20. This is due to the 2003 Texas redistricting, engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The district was drawn to make it Republican-dominated and unseat its then Democratic incumbent, Chet Edwards. Ultimately, this failed, and while several of his colleagues went down to defeat, Edwards held on to the seat in the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections.
However, In the 2010 Congressional elections, the district elected Republican Bill Flores over Edwards by a margin of 61.8% to 36.6%. Flores, who took office on January 3, 2011, is the first Republican ever elected to represent this district since its creation 91 years ago.