On Thursday evening, Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX-23) announced that he will not be seeking re-election in 2020.
Hurd is currently the only African-American Republican in the House, where he represents a key swing district stretching from San Antonio to just outside El Paso along the U.S. southern border.
Attributing his decision to his desire to serve the United States in other capacities, Hurd said, “I have made the decision to not seek reelection for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas in order to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.”
Before representing District 23 for three consecutive terms beginning in 2015, Hurd served as an undercover CIA officer in the Middle East and South Asia for almost a decade. Following his departure from the CIA, he went on to become a senior advisor for a cybersecurity firm in the private sector.
Hurd’s decision not to run for reelection is especially significant for Republicans seeking to maintain control of the key swing district in Texas, which has flipped numerous times since the 1990s.
In 2016, for example, the district voted for Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, over Republican Donald Trump, while also voting to re-elect Hurd to his second term that same year.
In 2018, Hurd barely won re-election, when he defeated Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, by just 926 votes.
This past May, Jones announced that she will be seeking election once again in 2020 creating greater uncertainty about the future of the district in light of Hurd’s recent announcement.
He is currently the only Republican to represent a district along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In response to Hurd’s retirement, representatives from both the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) have weighed in on the future of District 23.
NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer reiterated the Republican party’s commitment to retaining the district by saying, “Contrary to what the pundits will tell you, this is an R+1 district and we will fight tooth and nail to ensure it remains in Republican hands in 2020.”
DCCC Spokesperson Avery Jaffe, however, stated the Democratic party’s intent to win the district by saying, “Democrats will win this seat and if Will Hurd doesn’t believe he can keep his job in a changing Texas, his colleagues must be having second thoughts too.”
Currently, Hurd serves on the Permanent Select Intelligence Committee as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness – a role he was appointed to in 2017 by former Speaker Paul Ryan.
Additionally, he serves on the House Appropriations Committee, as a member of the Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development.
During his time in Congress, Hurd has frequently been outspoken in his criticism of President Trump.
Most notably, Hurd was one of four House Republicans who voted for a resolution condemning comments President Trump made in which he criticized four Democratic Congresswomen of color.
In response to the President’s comments, Hurd issued a message of accountability to both parties by tweeting, “There is no room in America for racism, sexism, antisemitism, xenophobia and hate. I voted to condemn the President’s tweets today but I hope that Speaker Pelosi also considers holding members of her own party accountable to the same degree to which she holds the President.”
Additionally, Hurd received attention in 2018, when he asserted President Trump was being manipulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin in an op-ed piece for the New York Times.
Despite these comments, however, Hurd stated his intentions to support President Trump should he be chosen as the Republican nominee in 2020.
In the wake of his recent announcement, Hurd reiterated his commitment to the Republican Party and to serving the United States by saying, “I’m leaving the House of Representatives to help our country in a different way. I want to use my knowledge and experience to focus on these generational challenges in new ways. It was never my intention to stay in Congress forever, but I will stay involved in politics to grow a Republican Party that looks like America.”
Before serving in Congress, Hurd attended Texas A&M University in College Station, where he served as student body president during the 1999 bonfire collapse.
He is the ninth Republican to announce retirement from Congress this year and the third from Texas.
Other Texas representatives retiring include Reps. Mike Conaway (R-TX-11) and Pete Olson (R-TX-22).
Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.