SAN ANTONIO (CN) — Will Hurd, the only black Republican in the House of Representatives, will not run for a fourth term, he said Thursday night, making him the sixth Republican congressman to decline to run for re-election in 2020.
Hurd, 41, made the sudden announcement on Twitter, saying he came to the decision against seeking re-election in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, one of the state’s few swing districts, “to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.”
“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,” Hurd, a former CIA agent, posted on his website.
One of six House Republicans the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee considered vulnerable for 2020, Hurd barely squeaked through a win in the 2018 midterms against challenger Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer who came just 926 votes short of flipping the massive border district to the Democrats.
Jones launched a 2020 rematch for Hurd’s seat in May and said at the end of the past fundraising quarter that she pulled in over half a million dollars in campaign contributions in just 48 days of campaigning, a pace that outraised Hurd.
The district wraps around western San Antonio and stretches to the edge of El Paso, running along the Rio Grande and incorporating rural border towns including Del Rio and Eagle Pass.
“After years of serving our country, first in the CIA and then in Congress, I respect Congressman Hurd’s decision to serve in a new capacity,” Jones said Thursday in a statement. “From San Antonio to Socorro and everywhere in between, Texans are ready for new leadership in Washington, and I’m ready to serve.”
Elected in 2014 by unseating Democratic incumbent Pete Gallego, Hurd joins five other congressional Republicans who announced their retirement in the past few weeks, including two from Texas: Reps. Mike Conaway and Pete Olson, who was also on the DCCC’s target list.
Hurd, who established himself as an expert on technology issues Congress, has publicly criticized President Trump’s border wall and was one of four House Republicans to join Democrats last month in condemning as racist Trump’s attacks against four first-term congresswomen, all women of color.
The DCCC expressed confidence at the chances of picking up Hurd’s district.
“Like we said last week, Republicans across the Lone Star State are terrified of losing their seats in 2020 and Will Hurd just joined the list,” said DCCC spokesperson Avery Jaffe. “Hurd has been a lockstep supporter of the worst of Washington Republicans’ policies and he sealed his fate when he pledged to vote for Donald Trump in 2020. 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.”
Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Manny Garcia proclaimed Texas “the biggest battleground state” and said he expects more retirements to come.
“The simple facts are that hypocrite Trump Republican Will Hurd did not stand a chance in the 23rd congressional district. He would say one thing to the people of Texas’ 23rd District while doing the complete opposite in Washington, D.C.,” Garcia said in a statement Thursday night. “Texas Democrats are rising up everywhere. Clearly Will Hurd knew his time was up. As we have said before, we wouldn’t be surprised if there were more retirements.”