Texas Republican Congressman Will Hurd announced Thursday he will not seek reelection in the 23rd District seat he has held since 2015.
Hurd’s district, which hugs the U.S.-Mexico border, and stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, has been more competitive than many Texas districts. Hurd is the only African American Republican serving in the U.S. House. And he’s the third Texas House Republican to announce retirement plans.
Abby Livingston is Washington bureau chief for The Texas Tribune, and says she’d heard rumors or had expected retirements by other members of Congress, but Hurd’s announcement was a surprise. And she says it’s probably not a pleasant one for Republicans even though Hurd has been a critic of President Donald Trump, particularly on border issues.
“I think what is so scary about this for so many Republicans who care about control of the U.S. House is he was perceived as the best Republican at getting reelected in a tough district,” Livingston says. “He has defied political gravity over and over in this sprawling West Texas seat.”
Livingston says Hurd is a successful fundraiser, both for himself and for other Republicans.
Hurd’s departure also signals trouble for Republicans in the 23rd District.
“If he’s hanging it up, this is going to be an incredibly hard district for them to hold, and there’s almost no path to getting back power [in] the House without this district,” Livingston says.
In fact, Livingston says, there’s a question as to whether Republicans will fight to retain Hurd’s seat in 2020.
“This is multi, multimillion dollars,” Livingston says. “Do they spend there, or do they cut their losses and move on?”
The fact that Hurd’s departure leaves Republicans with no African American members in the House is also a blow, she says.
Hurd didn’t announce whether he has another job lined up, but he did say he wants to work in technology and in intelligence – fields he pursued before coming to Washington. Hurd is a former CIA officer. Livingston says Hurd will likely have options in that field, but that Hurd may not be done with politics.
“I think we can expect to see him on television a lot,” Livingston says. “I don’t think Will Hurd is going away from the public discourse.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.