Former Democratic Congressman Pete Gallego made it official today: he’s gearing up for a rematch in CD-23 against Will Hurd, the Republican who upset him in November 2014.
While it’s not clear if Hurd will even make it to the general election, Gallego’s news confirmed what many expected.
Gallego was first elected to the Texas House in 1990, and survived the 2010 wave election. In 2012 he decided to run for Congress, and was elected to CD-23 after ousting Quico Canseco, who had defeated Ciro Rodriguez in 2010. Rodriguez also mounted a comeback, falling to Gallego in a 2012 primary runoff. Quico sought a rematch in 2014 but lost in a runoff to Will Hurd, who went on to win the general election.
Hurd has failed to distinguish himself in Congress, leading the DCCC to give him the optimistic nickname “One Term Wonder Will Hurd.”
Perhaps most out of touch with his constituents’ needs is Hurd’s efforts to turn Big Bend National Park into an oilfield through a deceptive border security bill that would remove protections on his district’s greatest natural wonder.
Hurd most recently voted for a Republican budget that would make it harder for students to go college, for seniors to retire, and for hardworking families to buy a home.
The first-termer also failed to hack it on the House Small Business Committee, quitting after only two months. That’s of little help to the workers and owners of over 2.3 million small businesses in Texas. Ironically during his campaign, Hurd touted his small business acumen, stating “I know what it’s like to live from day to day. And what real small businesses are having to deal with.”
It remains to be seen if Hurd will be challenged in a primary by either Quico Canseco or another GOP candidate. And given the district’s history of rotating through the same cast of characters, Gallego himself may wind up with a serious primary opponent looking to exploit any weaknesses he has in Bexar County. In the meantime Gallego can begin raising funds and building an operation.
CD-23 has slight Republican lean of R+3 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index, so this is no sure bet for Gallego. The Democrat first won the seat in a Presidential cycle so the boost in turnout from electoral circumstances alone should help. Gallego also needs to strengthen support in Bexar County — where Democratic performance needs to show improvement across the board, especially with at least one Castro on the ballot in 2016, as Joaquin is up for re-election to Congress. Should HUD Secretary and former San Antonio Mayor find himself on a presidential ticket, there would be ample opportunity to boost Bexar turnout to help Gallego.
Now that it’s official, expect more media attention on Hurd’s mishaps. There aren’t many competitive districts at any level of the ballot in Texas, and this race will be one to watch.