Editor’s note: Former Rep. Pete Gallego is currently running to retake CD-23 from incumbent Republican Will Hurd. In a district that is overwhelmingly Latino, Hurd refused to distance himself from Donald Trump until late this week, after Paul Ryan’s withheld endorsement of Trump gave Hurd cover to speak.
Nonetheless, Hurd’s Trump-dodging still matters. We thank Pete Gallego for letting us share his opinion piece from earlier this week explaining why.
Texas Republican Congressman Will Hurd *STILL* Refuses to Weigh in on the Controversial Remarks and Policies of his Party’s Presumptive Nominee.
At this point, virtually every Republican official in America has taken a position either for or against Donald Trump’s candidacy for President — except my opponent Congressman Will Hurd.
Rep. Hurd considers himself an expert on immigration, foreign policy and border security — all areas in which Mr. Trump has offered very strong opinions.
As the elected representative of a 70% Latino district with over 800 miles of U.S./Mexico border and all or part of two military bases, one would expect Rep. Hurd to have an opinion about who the next President should be.
But despite being asked repeatedly about Mr. Trump and his numerous controversial positions, Rep. Hurd has refused to weigh in.
Here are a few reasons why all that ducking and dodging matters.
The Red Phone
Rep. Hurd considers himself an expert on foreign policy and has emphasized alleged expertise in that area.
That’s fine — I’m happy to have that debate. Most Americans — and most veterans — hate the Will Hurd/Dick Cheney/neocon way of doing things. It is, after all, the reason the U.S. invaded Iraq a second time looking for “weapons of mass destruction” that weren’t there.
However, the truth is that one person in the country is inarguably the single most influential and consequential American official when it comes to foreign policy. The biggest decision maker in foreign policy is the President of the United States.
It’s the President who will answer the phone when a crisis hits. All of us deserve to know who Rep. Hurd wants answering that phone.
Does Congressman Hurd agree with Donald Trump that we should put 30,000 American troops on the ground in Syria? Does Congressman Hurd believe we should make the sand “glow” in the Middle East?
Unfortunately, Congressman Hurd won’t say. And that’s a slap in the face to the countless service men and women and veterans who are living in the 23rd congressional district.
70% Latino District
Foreign policy may be an executive function, but serving as the voice of his or her district and defending their interests is the single-most important function of an elected representative. Every constituent is a stakeholder.
Congressman Hurd represents a 70% Latino district. One would think that Rep. Hurd would speak out when his constituents are being berated, insulted and dragged through the mud on a regular basis by Donald Trump.
But when Mr. Trump denigrated the border area and said Mexican immigrants were “murderers” and “rapists” — Congressman Hurd said nothing. To this day, he refuses to address those comments.
In 2014, Congressman Hurd was not the preferred candidate for the vast majority of Latinos in the 23rd District. Among Latinos who voted, Congressman Hurd received only 27% of their vote. Congressman Hurd’s victory in 2014 was due in large part to extremely low Latino turnout.
Perhaps this is why Congressman Hurd has decided to represent only the very small segment of the 23rd district that delivered his slim victory in 2014.
The Wall With Mexico
The only time that Congressman Hurd has distanced himself from Mr. Trump is on the issue of a border wall. I agree that the border wall is a terrible idea — but Congressman Hurd’s own idea is no better — and the National Border Patrol Council agrees with me.
The same Border Patrol union that endorsed Donald Trump refused to support the border security bill Congressman Hurd signed his name to, the Secure Our Borders First Act. They said the bill would serve as nothing more than “window dressing.”
The “window dressing” would do nothing to actually make the border more secure — but it would have very negative consequences on the tourism economy of Far West Texas.
The bill would authorize unlimited bulldozing in Big Bend National Park. Massive outpost facilities with holding areas and helicopter pads would be created inside the park — along with miles of roads needed to get to and from them. All environmental or other protections would be set aside so that “experts” on border security in Washington could decide where to put these facilities.
Secondly, the bill would literally deploy military resources to our Southern Border. This isn’t an idea with much support In the Big Bend country, where most people still remember a local boy tending livestock who was shot and killed in the name of border security. Plus, like most Americans, Texans aren’t particularly happy about the prospect of seeing military drones flying around outside their windows.
Most importantly, the bill fails to do the thing most border security experts say we actually need to do — give the border patrol funding so they can hire, train and deploy an adequate number of agents along the border. That’s the smart thing to do.
Putting tanks in Big Bend is as harmful or more so than bulldozing Big Bend. And, each of these ideas is just as dumb as Donald Trump’s wall idea.
Elections are about offering voters competing visions and letting them make a choice.
I endorsed Hillary Clinton. I don’t agree with her on every issue and I’m happy to have a discussion on our similarities and differences. But I’m not afraid to let people know where I stand.
Congressman Hurd is hoping to dodge that debate altogether. He’s hoping Texans won’t notice if he tries to be a casual and neutral observer regarding the most powerful office in the world. Chances are high that the next President will impact our children and our grandchildren much more than our next congressman will.
I’ve been very blessed in life. For me, running for office is about public service — giving back to the state and country that have given me so much and making a substantive difference for the people I represented. For Congressman Hurd — it seems to be all about his own political aspirations. When asked, Congressman Hurd says “the only candidate I’m endorsing is me.”
Where that leaves the thousands of Texans he’s supposed to be representing is anyone’s guess.