Last modified on 2 August 2019, at 08:20

Will Hurd

William Ballard "Will" Hurd

U.S. Representative for Texas' 23rd congressional district from San Antonio to El Paso
In office
January 3, 2015 – January 2021
Preceded by Pete Gallego

Born August 19, 1977
San Antonio, Texas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Single
Alma mater John Marshall High School

Texas A&M University

Religion Southern Baptist

William Ballard Hurd, known as Will Hurd (born August 19, 1977), is an African-American Moderate Republican member of the United States House of Representatives for Texas's sprawling 23rd congressional district, which stretches from western San Antonio to the eastern side of El Paso.

Hurd easily won re-nomination to a third term in the Republican primary held on March 6, 2018. He defeated the conservative Alma Arredondo-Lynch, a rancher and dentist who practices in Uvalde west of San Antonio. He then retained his seat by 1,150 votes in the November 6 general election contest against Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, 102,903 (49.2 percent) to 101,754 (48.7 percent), a liberal favorite of Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Libertarian Ruben Corvalan held another critical 4,402 votes (2.1 percent).[1]

On August 1, 2019, Hurd announced that he will not seek a fourth consecutive term as U.S. Representative. Dr. Arrendo-Lynch is still seeking the Republican nomination, and Gina Ortiz Jones has confirmed her second candidacy for the seat in 2020.[2]

Background

A son of Robert and Mary Alice Hurd, Will Hurd graduated in 1995 from John Marshall High School in the San Antonio suburb of Leon Valley. He then attended Texas A&M University in College Station (Class of 2000), at which he majored in computer science and minored in international relations. He was also the TAMU student body president in 1999. Before his election to Congress, Hurd was employed for nine years by the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C., and served as an operations officer in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan.

U.S. House races

Hurd won his seat in 2014 by unseating the one-term Democrat Pete Gallego of Alpine in Brewster County. Hurd held on in a rematch against Gallego in 2016. He is an intra-party critic of U.S. President Donald Trump, and he opposed the candidacy of Judge Roy Moore in the special election in Alabama in 2017 to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He did support the tax cuts enacted in December 2017. He has called for greater bipartisan cooperation between the two parties in Congress and has made a point to be in contact with Beto O'Rourke of El Paso, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged the second-term reelection bid of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. In 2017, Hurd and O'Rourke attracted attention when they drove together from Texas to Washington, D.C., for the resumption of House business following a recess.

Hurd first ran for the U.S. House in the Republican primary in 2010 but lost the nomination to Francisco Canseco, a native of Laredo who practices law and attends to his business interests in San Antonio. After one term, Canseco was unseated in 2012 by Pete Gallego. In 2018, Canseco was one of eighteen primary candidates in Texas' 21st congressional district being vacated in 2019 by Lamar Smith, also of San Antonio. His opponents included former Bexar County Republican Chairman Robert Stovall, state Representative Jason Isaac of Dripping Springs, and the ultimate winner, Chip Roy, a former aide to Senator Cruz who was endorsed by Cruz from the beginning of the campaign.

The San Antonio Express News endorsed Hurd in the re-nomination contest against Arredondo-Lynch:

Hurd, a former CIA operative, is a leading voice on national security, speaking with conviction and nuance that puts his district first. He has opposed a border wall and proposed legislation to provide legal residency to 'Dreamers', add 165 immigration judges, and boost border security. That legislation has gained widespread bipartisan support.

What makes Hurd unique, though, is his ability to keep his distance from extremes while maintaining his conservative credentials. He did not endorse President Donald Trump and broke with the administration, on the wall and health care, for example. But he also championed tax cuts. In other words, he is conservative and genuinely and frequently aligns with Republican interests, but he is also a model for bipartisan compromise and governance.[3]

In his first year in office in 2015, Hurd voted with the House majority to halt federal funding for one year for the abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. Hurd said that he believes that "every human life is sacred, including both the mother and the child."[4]

Hurd polled 24,843 votes (81.2 percent) in the March 6 primary to Arredondo-Lynch's 11,997 (19.7 percent)[5] In her energetic but under-fundecd campaign, Arredondo-Lynch barely ran ahead of Hurd's 2016 primary opponent, William "Hart" Peterson, who drew 17.8 percent of the primary tabulation that year.

In the November 6 general election, Hurd defeated Gina Ortiz Jones, a former intelligence officer with the United States Air Force and an Hispanic political activist who also carried the primary backing of The San Antonio Express-News and is a favorite of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.[3] Rick Trevino, a liberal former history teacher at Sam Houston High School in San Antonio, lost his runoff to Ortiz Jones, 68-32 percent. Had he been the nominee, Trevino was believed more likely to support military cuts that could impact the San Antonio community than what Ortiz Jones or Hurd would consider.[6]

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had already presumed that Jones would be the party nominee. The committee added Jones to its "Red to Blue" program to target seats needed to take control of the House in 2018. Campaign chairman Ben Ray Luján, a representative from New Mexico, called Ortiz Jones "the embodiment of the American Dream. … She'll fight every day to make sure that same dream is a reality for Texas families."[7] The San Antonio Express-News has called Hurd's district "the most competitive in Texas."[8]

After his nomination for a third term, Hurd unveiled his plan to reform the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Hurd vowed to bring various proposals for immigration reform to the House floor without approval of the leadership though House Speaker Paul Ryan since agreed to roll calls on two immigration measures. Hurd said that his immigration package includes "a smart wall" which uses radar and fiber optics, rather than the brick-and-mortar structure envisioned by President Trump. Meanwhile, Trump signaled opposition to a Senate bill that corresponds with some of Hurd's immigration proposals.[8] He is pushing for a discharge petition to submit four immigration bills to the full House even though they have not cleared committees.

Hurd and Mia Love, another Moderate Republican from Utah's 4th congressional district, were the only two African-American Republican members of the House. Then Love narrowly lost her reelection bid on November 6, 2018. And now Hurd is stepping down.

In the session of Congress that began in 2019, Hurd remained a steadfast intra-party critic of President Trump. In July, he was one of four Republicans who voted to condemn Trump's tweets about four Islamic members of Congress known for their fervent anti-American radicalism.

References

  1. Election Returns. Texas Secretary of State (November 6, 2018). Retrieved on November 7, 2018.
  2. Will Hurd, Only Black Republican in House, Is Retiring From Congress. The Hill (August 1, 2019).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Susan Pope, publisher: "Ortiz Jones, Hurd in 23rd District, San Antonio Express-News, February 17, 2018, p. A16.
  4. Hurd Votes to End Taxpayer Funded Abortions (September 18, 2015). Retrieved on August 2, 2019.
  5. Election Returns. Texas Secretary of State (March 6, 2018). Retrieved on March 7, 2018.
  6. Gilbert Garcia, "Trevino outthinks conventional wisdom," San Antonio Express-News, March 9, 2018, p. 2.
  7. Jasper Scherer, "Group to help Dem in House race: Jones in runoff in bid for Hurd's seat", San Antonio Express-News, March 23, 2018, p. A4.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Jasper Scherer, "Congressman talks up a way for his DACA fix to pass House, The San Antonio Express-News, March 30, 2018, p. A3, A5.