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Congressman Will Hurd Says SA Roots And CIA Skills Inform His Decisions In CD-23

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AARON SCHRANK/TPR
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Congressman Will Hurd

Republican Congressman Will Hurd's race against Democrat Pete Gallego in the 23rd Congressional District is one of the most competitive in the country. As Election Day approaches, Texas Public Radio asked the two candidates about the values that influence their decisions. Hurd says his time as a San Antonio upbringing and CIA experience led him to U.S. Congress. 

Days before voters decide whether to send Will Hurd back to Washington, the Congressman is onstage in the Alamo City speaking to hundreds of junior high boys at an event promoting Science, Technology Engineering and Math education.

“My job was to recruit spies and steal secrets,” Hurd tells the crowd. “I was able to do that because I had a degree in computer science.”  

The 39-year old Republican grew up in San Antonio, and says his parents were his role models.

“My father is black and my mother is white,” says Hurd. “Growing up as a biracial kid in the 80s, it wasn’t in vogue back then. Seeing the love that they had for one another and that you shouldn’t care what other people think about, do the right thing. Those were the messages I learned as a young kid.”

Hurd says he learned more from teachers—at schools like John Marshall High.   

“I had people that inspired me to go into computer science, and also inspired me to go to Texas A&M,” Hurd says.  

At A&M, Hurd was student body president. His leadership was tested in 1999, when 12 students were killed in the Aggie Bonfire collapse. Hurd moved on to a decade-long career with the CIA. He says politics wasn’t on his mind until he saw Washington dysfunction firsthand.

“In addition to collecting intelligence, I had to brief members of Congress, and I was pretty shocked by the caliber of our elected leaders,” says Hurd. “My mom said you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. I had some friends who had one time during dinner said, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about running for Distrct 23?’ And I was like, ‘What’s District 23?’ and realized it was basically where I grew up.” 

Hurd first ran in 2010 and lost. He ran again in 2014 and beat then-Congressman Pete Gallego by just 2 percentage points—fewer than 2,500 votes.

This year, Democrat Gallego is hoping to win the seat back in a rematch race. But Hurd says he has served the District well over the past two years, even though it's split between Democrat and Republican voters.  

“When you represent a 50/50 district, you learn something really quickly: No matter what you do, half the district is upset with you,” says Hurd. “So the reality is that I do what I think is right for the district, and I let people know what I did and why I did it.”

The Republican Hurd says he’s gotten 5 bills signed into law—a difficult feat for a freshman Congressman. One of those bills will result in the federal government modernizing its information-technology infrastructure. 

“IT procurement’s not a sexy topic, but that’s how you change and ensure that the federal government is providing an efficient service to the American people. And I’m proud of being able to accomplish that in a short 22 months.”

Hurd says his STEM training is useful in Congress.

“I always say I’m a classically trained engineer, and I like to solve problems,” says Hurd. “When I see a problem, I try to fix it.”