Is Will Hurd in trouble?
- By Aisha Chowdhry
- Aug 12, 2016
One of the leading voices on IT issues on Capitol Hill is embroiled in a close reelection bid, in a rematch of the race that brought him to Capitol Hill.
Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's IT Subcommittee, former CIA agent and cybersecurity expert, is in a toss-up race with former Rep. Pete Gallego to represent Texas's sprawling 23rd District.
"It's a situation where Hurd is certainly on the fence," said Geoffrey Skelley, a political analyst at the University of Virginia, told FCW on Aug. 12.
Hurd's leading problem is Republican nominee Donald Trump, who is wildly unpopular with Hispanics nationally, and lagging behind Democrat Hillary Clinton with Texas Latino voters. A recent poll of likely voters in Texas found Trump trailing Clinton by 16 percentage points among Texas Latinos. Hurd's district is more than half Hispanic.
Gallego represented district from 2013 to 2015 and Democrats will be fighting hard to give him the edge over the most competitive seat in Texas.
"Given the heavy Hispanic population of Hurd's district, which vary narrowly voted for Mitt Romney and John McCain during the last two presidential cycles, and the fact that he's running against a former member, Hurd is certainly vulnerable," Simone Pathe, a politics reporter at CQ Roll Call, told FCW. That said, Hurd did not crack that publication's list of most vulnerable freshmen.
"There are simply many more freshman Republicans in more Democratic-leaning districts who are more vulnerable," Pathe said. "In other words, vulnerability is all relative."
Hurd has a few things going for him, though.
His campaign has raised significant money to defend his seat; Skelley noted that Hurd has twice as much cash as Gallego. "The more money you have, the better for campaign, structure and for TV ads." he said. Still, "I think it's definitely a race that is sort of at knife's edge."
Gallego has been using the Trump candidacy to his advantage. But with voting just 88 days away, Skelley said the National Republican Congressional Committee has strong incentives to invest in Hurd's re-election.
"He's proven a stronger fundraiser than Gallego ... and with his CIA background, he's brought a voice -- and a diverse face -- to the GOP conference that Republicans will fight to keep," Pathe said. "But Texas' 23rd District remains one of the most competitive districts in the country -- certainly a must-win for Democrats that they're targeting heavily."
Hurd's campaign stressed the work Hurd has done on Capitol Hill for his constituents and will be selling that aggressively on the campaign trail. He's had four bills signed, assumed a leadership role on IT and cybersecurity issues and was given the chairmanship of a subcommittee with an oversight portfolio that includes $80 billion in federal IT spending.
Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.