Hurd maintains lead over Gallego in District 23
Texas’ most competitive congressional race was headed to a close finish late Tuesday as District 23 voters in 29 counties decided whether to re-elect Republican Rep. Will Hurd or replace him with his Democratic predecessor, Pete Gallego.
Partial returns, including the Bexar County early vote, gave Hurd the edge from the start, with a small fraction of the vote going to Libertarian Ruben S. Corvalan.
Though some rural returns favored Gallego, Hurd’s lead continued to build as the votes were tallied. With 307 of the district’s 1,119 precincts counted, Hurd led 81,706 to 73,435 over Gallego. Corvalan trailed with 7,472.
Hurd, a cybersecurity expert from Helotes and the state’s first African-American Republican to serve in Congress since Reconstruction, and Gallego, an attorney from Alpine, were monitoring the outcome at their San Antonio watch parties — Hurd at the suburban Éilan Hotel and Gallego at the rooftop Paramour Bar downtown.
For months the race was rated a toss-up, prompting national Democrats and Republicans and third-party groups to pour a record $14 million into advertising that saturated the district’s airwaves with mostly negative messages.
Hurd ads portrayed the former CIA officer as an authority on national security and cybersecurity, while painting Gallego as a career politician and Washington insider who didn’t adequately represent the district in his two-year term. Gallego’s ads cast him as an advocate for veteran and seniors, while bashing Hurd for being on the same ticket as Donald Trump.
Hurd declined to endorse Trump, denounced some of his comments about women, and sought to distance himself from the GOP nominee, whose approaches to immigration and border security displeased some Republicans in the district’s border communities. Hurd, Gallego asserted, was “afraid to call him (Trump) out.”
District 23 is the state’s largest congressional district, covering parts of 29 counties and stretching from San Antonio to El Paso, almost the entire Texas-Mexico border.
The district has seesawed between the major parties in the last three elections. In 2010, Republican Francisco “Quico” Canseco ousted then-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, a Democrat, after defeating the newcomer Hurd — a former student body president at Texas A&M University — in a runoff for the GOP nomination.
Two years later, Gallego, 54, won his first term in the U.S. House after unseating Canseco. Gallego had previously served in the Texas House from 1991 to 2013.
But Republicans quickly pounced on the freshman congressman, linking him to the president and the difficult rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
Gallego then became another page in the district’s flip-flop history: In 2014, he narrowly lost to Hurd, the first non-Latino to hold the seat in more than three decades.
“We left nothing on the table,” Hurd said of that hard-fought contest.
Within three months of his defeat, Gallego hinted he might run again; he formally declared his intentions in April 2015.
A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman at the time made clear the organization was focused on recapturing the swing district and warned that Hurd “shouldn’t unpack.”
In their first matchup, Gallego performed better in his West Texas strongholds of El Paso and Eagle Pass, while Hurd outperformed him in Bexar and Medina counties.
Gallego began the day early, attending Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church on Huebner Road and then visiting several polling places and a phone bank, said his communications director Lyndsey Rodriguez.
On Monday, Hurd was joined by Gov. Greg Abbott for a final campaign event.