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'Democrats Will Win This Seat' Party Says After Lone Black Member of House Republican Caucus Will Hurd Retires

"Texas is the biggest battleground state. Republicans know it, and Texas Democrats damn sure know it."

Rep. Will Hurd (D-Texas) announced Thursday he will not seek re-election to the House. He is the ninth member of the House GOP caucus to do so this year.

Rep. Will Hurd (D-Texas) announced Thursday he will not seek re-election to the House. He is the ninth member of the House GOP caucus to do so this year. (Photo: Rep. Hurd office

Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd announced Thursday he will not seek another term in 2020, making him the latest GOP member of Congress to make such a declaration as the party's future is suddenly in doubt even as it dominates two-and-a-half branches of government.

Hurd won a narrow re-election fight against Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones in 2018, edging her out by less than 1,000 votes. 

In a Twitter post in response to Hurd's retirement, Jones said she was running again. 

"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," tweeted Jones. "From San Antonio to Socorro and everywhere in between, Texans are ready for new leadership in Washington and I'm ready to serve."

In retiring, Hurd had progressives wondering what Republicans know the rest of us don't.

"Can't stop thinking about the time my cat suddenly bolted across the house and dove under the couch two seconds before an earthquake hit," tweeted New Republic writer Matt Ford of Hurd's retirement. 

Hurd made the announcement on his Twitter page, saying he was leaving "in order to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security."

As the only black Republican in the House, Hurd was often referred to as the "future of the GOP" by media outlets like Politico, which profiled Hurd in 2017. The magazine quoted former Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler as saying of Hurd that "The sky is the limit. This guy is incredible."

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A former CIA intelligence officer, Hurd has served as the representative for Texas' 23rd district since 2015. His retirement shifted the district into a "lean Democratic" lane by the Cook Political Report and may signal that at least some members of the GOP sense change is coming in next year's elections. 

As Splinter's Paul Blest noted:

Hurd is the ninth Republican House member to announce his retirement so far this year, as opposed to just two on the Democratic side. While the majority have relatively safe seats—Rep. Mike Conaway represents one of the most conservative districts in the whole country—the list includes a bunch of Republicans in swing districts, such as Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia, who also won his race by less than 500 votes, and Texas Rep. Pete Olson, who won re-election by five points.

DCCC spokesman Avery Jaffe told The Hill that the party was hopeful they could win the 23rd, pointing to President Donald Trump's national unpopularity and the changing demographics in Texas as indicators that a political shift is coming.

"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," said Jaffe. "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."

In a statement, the executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, Manny Garcia, said that Hurd's retirement was just another indicator that Texas could go blue.

"Texas is the biggest battleground state," said Garcia. "Republicans know it, and Texas Democrats damn sure know it."

Taking Hurd's seat would send a message beyond just flipping the seat, as journalist David Dayen pointed out out on Twitter. 

"Should Democrats take Will Hurd's seat next year, and retain the others in the region, they will have secured every seat along the Mexican border," said Dayen. 

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