|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Texas's 23rd district
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2021
|Preceded by||Pete Gallego|
|Succeeded by||Tony Gonzales|
William Ballard Hurd
August 19, 1977
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
|Education||Texas A&M University (BS)|
William Ballard Hurd (born August 19, 1977) is an American politician and former CIA clandestine officer who served as the U.S. representative for Texas's 23rd congressional district from 2015 to 2021. The district stretches about 550 miles (890 km) from San Antonio to El Paso along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Following a nine-year stint with the CIA, Hurd ran for Congress in 2010; however, he was defeated in a runoff primary. Hurd ran for Congress again in 2014 and was successful. He was re-elected in 2016 and 2018. During his congressional tenure, Hurd became known for his expertise in technology and cybersecurity and for his bipartisanship. As of 2019, Hurd was the only African-American Republican in the House of Representatives. He did not seek re-election in 2020.
Early life and education
Hurd is the son of Robert and Mary Alice Hurd. He has a brother, Chuck, and a sister, Elizabeth. His father is black and his mother is white.
Hurd is a graduate of John Marshall High School in Leon Valley, Texas and of Texas A&M University, where he was elected student body president and graduated with a major in computer science and a minor in international relations.
Hurd worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for nine years from 2000 to 2009, stationed primarily in Washington, D.C., including a tour of duty as an operations officer in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. He speaks Urdu, the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan, where he worked undercover. One of his roles at the CIA was briefing members of Congress, which is what made Hurd want to pursue politics. He returned to Texas after his CIA service and worked as a partner with Crumpton Group LLC, a strategic advisory firm, and as a senior adviser with FusionX, a cybersecurity firm.
U.S. House of Representatives
On November 19, 2009, Hurd announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in Texas's 23rd congressional district, a district that is two-thirds Hispanic. His electronically filed campaign finance records indicated he had $70,000 on hand to fund his campaign.
On February 15, 2010, the San Antonio Express-News endorsed Hurd. In the March 2 primary election he received the most votes but not a majority, resulting in a runoff election on April 13, 2010. Hurd faced second-place finisher Francisco "Quico" Canseco, a San Antonio banker who was making his third bid for Congress. Canseco defeated Hurd in the runoff, 53% to 47%. Canseco won the general election against two-term incumbent Democrat Ciro Rodriguez, but lost reelection in 2012 to Alpine Democrat Pete Gallego by a margin of 2,500 votes.
Hurd once again ran for the 23rd district in the 2014 United States House of Representatives elections. After a runoff, he won the primary over Canseco. In the general election, Hurd defeated Gallego, making this the third consecutive election cycle in the district in which an incumbent was unseated. The San Antonio Express-News again endorsed Hurd. Even though Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had carried the district two years earlier, the result was considered an upset. Hurd conducted a post-election swing through some parts of his district that had heavily supported Gallego. He was also the only candidate ever to be endorsed by former CIA director and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who admired Hurd's work at the CIA and was disappointed by his departure to run for public office. Gates said that Hurd "has the character and the integrity and the leadership skills for higher office."
Hurd was handily renominated for a second term in the Republican primary election held on March 1, 2016. He defeated William "Hart" Peterson, 39,762 votes (82.2%) to 8,590 (17.8%). His Democratic opponent was former Congressman Pete Gallego, and the race was expected to be one of the most competitive in the country. After the primary, Hurd began to distance himself from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, the frontrunner and eventual nominee. He criticized Trump's "nasty rhetoric" about Muslims and Latinos and his proposal to build an $8 billion, 1,000-mile-long (1,600 km) wall across the American border with Mexico, saying, "Building a wall is the most expensive, least effective way to do border security". Hurd said he did not need coattails from his party's presidential nominee: "Anybody who is hoping on coattails or macro trends, is not doing his job."
In the rematch, Gallego attempted to tie Hurd to Trump, who was considered unpopular with Texas Hispanics. After the Access Hollywood tape was released, Hurd affirmed that he would not endorse or vote for Trump, saying, "I never endorsed Donald Trump, and I cannot in good conscience support or vote for a man who degrades women, insults minorities, and has no clear path to keep our country safe. He should step aside for a true conservative to defeat Hillary Clinton." Hurd claimed that Gallego had been insufficiently aggressive in support for veterans' issues and was largely a tool of Nancy Pelosi, at that time the House minority leader. Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez of Val Verde County, a Gallego supporter, said turnout would determine which of the two would win. But Hurd ran better in Val Verde County than many of those who opposed him had anticipated, receiving 5,929 votes (45.3%) there to Gallego's 7,148 (54.7%). Hurd ran 39 votes ahead of Trump in Val Verde County.
In the general election Hurd defeated Gallego, 110,577 votes (48.3%) to 107,526 (47%), with Libertarian Ruben Schmidt Corvalan of San Antonio earning the remaining 10,862 (4.7%). Hurd ran sufficiently well in the Bexar County portion of the district and in nearby Medina and Uvalde counties to offset Gallego's large margins in El Paso and Maverick counties, the latter of which encompasses the border city of Eagle Pass.
On March 7, 2018, Hurd won the GOP primary with 80% of the vote. No candidate won a majority of the vote in the Democratic primary in his district, forcing a runoff between former Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones and high-school teacher Rick Trevino. Ortiz Jones won the runoff.
In July 2018, it was reported that the election was on track to become "the most expensive congressional race in the state's history."
The race was the closest House race in Texas, and one of the closest in the country. The Associated Press initially called it for Hurd on election night, but an additional batch of votes temporarily gave Ortiz Jones a small lead, which Hurd then regained. After all provisional and overseas ballots were counted, Hurd was officially declared the winner on November 19 by a margin of 926 votes.
Hurd assumed office as a U.S. representative on January 3, 2015. During his first term, he ranked third among freshman House members who had the most bills passed. Much of Hurd's work focused on bipartisan cybersecurity and technology bills. Hurd has been described as a leading congressional voice on technology issues.
In July 2015, Hurd was named to replace Aaron Schock of Illinois as a co-chair of the Congressional Future Caucus, along with Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.[better source needed] In his first term in Congress, Hurd was made the chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (which focuses in part on cybersecurity), which is unusual for a first-term member of Congress.
Hurd was the vice-chair of the Border and Maritime Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee. He was appointed to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence for his second term, replacing Mike Pompeo, who departed to head the CIA. Hurd's background as a former undercover clandestine officer led The Daily Dot to call him "The Most Interesting Man in Congress."
Along with Brian Fitzpatrick, John Katko and Elise Stefanik, Hurd was considered one of the most moderate Republicans in the House. He voted against his party's positions on LGBT rights, gun control, immigration, repeal of the Affordable Care Act and congressional oversight, and received praise for his bipartisanship. Hurd was a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership.
As of August 2019, Hurd was the only black Republican in the House of Representatives. He has said that the principal role of the government in the lives of African Americans should be to empower them to do things for themselves.
According to USA Today, Hurd's district "spans two time zones and more than 800 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border". As of January 2019, Hurd was the only Republican member of Congress representing a district along the U.S.–Mexican border.
Hurd did not seek reelection to Congress in 2020, instead becoming a Winter 2021 Resident Fellow at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics. There, Hurd leads a series of seminars. He is currently on the board of directors for OpenAI.
In 2015, Hurd voted 96% with his party's position on roll-call votes. As of August 2019, he had voted with his party in 82% of votes in the 116th United States Congress and in line with Trump's position in 81.3% of votes.
2011 congressional district map
In March 2017, a three-member panel of federal judges invalidated the Texas State Legislature's 2011 drawing of three congressional districts (Hurd's 23rd district, the 27th district, and the 35th district), finding that Texas had intentionally discriminated against blacks and Latinos in violation of either the U.S. Constitution or the Voting Rights Act. Hurd's election victory occurred using a court-approved 2013 interim map that differed from the 2011 map. The San Antonio Express-News editorial board wrote that "partisan motivations" influenced the drawing of the lines for the U.S. House seats by the Republican majority in the Texas state legislature. Hurd staunchly defended his district's boundaries. Hurd added that a revised district plan would not affect his work in Congress or his hopes of winning a third term in 2018.
Allegheny College gave the 2018 Prize for Civility in Public Life to Hurd and Beto O'Rourke, a Texas Democrat. In March 2017, facing snowstorm-induced flight cancellations, Hurd and O'Rourke, both stuck in San Antonio, needed to get back to Washington for a House vote. They rented a car and embarked on a 1,600-mile (2,600 km) drive that they captured on Facebook Live. Hurd and O'Rourke worked together on legislation subsequent to the road trip.
In February 2017, Hurd voted against a resolution that would have directed the House to request ten years of President Trump's tax returns, which would then have been reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee in a closed session.
In February 2019, on Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher pressed Hurd about his vote against the February 2017 resolution to request Trump's tax returns. Hurd said that the resolution had not been on the floor for a vote, but that he would support renewed efforts by the House to obtain the returns.
In July 2019, Hurd was one of four Republican House members to vote in support of a motion to condemn tweets by Trump calling for the members of the Squad to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
Hurd did not openly support impeachment for the Trump-Ukraine scandal of fall 2019. He said, "some of these things are indeed damning. However, I want to make sure we get through this entire investigation before coming to some kind of conclusion." In December 2019, he voted against both articles of impeachment.
In a July 2020 interview, Hurd said he might not vote for Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Foreign policy and national security
Hurd called for a ramp-up of U.S. military action against ISIS in Libya and in Syria, using the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan as a model. He blamed ISIL's rise on the Obama administration, accusing it of underestimating the threat. Hurd has written that Islamic extremists "are in it for the long haul, which means that we have to be also." On the broader Syrian civil war, Hurd has written that "the brutal dictator Bashar al-Asad must go."
Hurd has called for greater U.S. defenses against foreign cyber-attacks. Following the Office of Personnel Management data breach, he wrote that federal cybersecurity was woefully inadequate. He opposes applying the Wassenaar Arrangement to cyber technologies, arguing that "attempting to regulate cybersecurity technologies through export controls is a fundamentally flawed approach" that places the U.S. at risk and "will not achieve the goal of curbing human rights violations."
Hurd opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (an international agreement with Iran over its nuclear program), calling it "short-sighted and ultimately dangerous," and called for the U.S. to reimpose various sanctions against Iran, arguing that Iran violated its obligations under the agreement. He has spoken out against Russian aggression, calling the Russian government "our adversary."
Along with Martha McSally and Michael McCaul, Hurd helped draft the Final Report of the Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee.
Hurd questioned FBI director James Comey's recommendation not to seek prosecution of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over the Clinton e-mail controversy. Referencing his experience in the CIA, Hurd said he knew the importance of classified information because had seen his friends killed and assets put in harm's way to obtain such sensitive information.
In January 2018 Hurd voted down Democratic motions in the House Intelligence Committee to allow the Justice Department and FBI to review the Devin Nunes memo, a document alleging FBI abuses of surveillance powers in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, before releasing it to the public. The FBI said it had "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy." Hurd voted against the release of a related memo authored by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.
Hurd has opposed the CIA's efforts to mandate weaker encryption on smartphones and other devices to make it easier for federal agents to unlock them, arguing that stronger encryption thwarts hackers and protects national security.
Hurd favors repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In 2017, when House Republican leadership introduced the American Health Care Act (a bill to repeal the ACA), he faced a political quandary. Hurd did not say whether he supported or opposed the legislation. Ultimately, after the measure was declared dead and withdrawn from a planned vote due to insufficient support, Hurd "released a statement in which he appeared to oppose the overhaul." When the bill came up for a vote again, he voted against it, opposing it because he feared it would hurt people with pre-existing medical conditions. Some Democrats castigated Hurd for the length of his consideration of the bill, but constituents and ACA supporters praised him for declining to support the bill, with former secretary of housing and urban development Julian Castro calling Hurd's vote a "good decision."
Hurd spoke out against Trump's 2017 executive order to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico, saying it was a "third-century solution to a 21st-century problem" and the "most expensive and least effective way to secure the border." Hurd instead advocated for a "flexible, sector-by-sector approach that empowers Border Patrol agents on the ground with the resources they need." He proposed using "a mix of technology. It's going to be significantly cheaper than building a wall. Let's focus on drug traffickers ... and human smugglers."
Vote Smart Political Courage Test
Vote Smart, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that collects and distributes information on candidates for public office in the United States, "researched presidential and congressional candidates' public records to determine candidates' likely responses on certain key issues." According to its 2016 analysis, Hurd generally supports anti-abortion legislation, opposes an income tax increase, opposes federal spending that doesn’t benefit the military or state security, and supports lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth, supports building the Keystone Pipeline, opposes the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, opposes gun-control legislation, supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, and supports increased American intervention in Iraq and Syria beyond air support.
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The 37-year-old worked for the CIA for almost a decade, much of it undercover in Pakistan, where he mastered the national tongue.
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- The German Marshall Fund and Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung Launch “Transatlantic Task Force” Setting Path Forward for U.S.-Europe Relations German Marshall Fund, press release of December 12, 2019.
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- "Will Hurd Joins OpenAI's Board of Directors". OpenAI. May 3, 2021.
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- Obviously, district maps' intent was to discriminate (editorial), San Antonio Express-News, March 17, 2017, p. A10.
- Jeremy Gerlach, "Hurd defends district boundaries: He's last state witness in remapping trial," San Antonio Express-News, July 16, 2017, p. A3.
- Guillermo Contreras and Bill Lambrecht, "Race seen as fueling redrawing of districts", San Antonio Express-News, March 12, 2017, pp. 1, 18.
- "Bipartisan Road Trip By Two Texas Congressmen Wins National Award". Texas Monthly. July 18, 2018. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
- "Civility award goes to Texas buddies Beto O'Rourke and Will Hurd, as each scraps for partisan win in the fall". Dallas News. July 17, 2018. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
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- Diaz, Kevin (July 17, 2018). "Beto O'Rourke and Will Hurd road trip wins them 'Civility in Public Life' award". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
- "San Antonio Congressman Will Hurd, a Republican, Voted in Favor of the Equality Act". May 20, 2019.
- "These are all the Republicans who don't want you to see Donald Trump's tax returns". indy100. February 28, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
- "Overtime: Rep. Will Hurd, Myr. Bill de Blasio, Jennifer Rubin, Jon Meacham, Peter Hamby". Real Time with Bill Maher on YouTube. February 1, 2019.
- Sonmez, Felicia; DeBonis, Mike (July 14, 2019). "Trump tells four liberal congresswomen to 'go back' to their countries, prompting Pelosi to defend them". Washington Post.
- LeBlanc, Paul (July 16, 2019). "Here are the 4 Republicans who voted to condemn Trump's racist tweets". CNN.com.
- "Texas GOP Rep. Will Hurd, a former CIA agent, being keenly watched in impeachment fight". Los Angeles Times. October 6, 2019. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
- Cai, Weiyi; Lai, K.K. Rebecca; Parlapiano, Alicia; White, Jeremy; Buchanan, Larry (December 18, 2019). "Impeachment Results: How Democrats and Republicans Voted". New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2019.
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- Picard, Joe (October 21, 2015). "The world has changed, so should our energy policy". The Hill. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
- Hurd, Will (January 12, 2016). "Strategy needed to combat ISIS". The Hill.
- "Defending the Homeland Against Cyber Attacks". gop.gov. October 19, 2016. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
- Hurd, Will (June 25, 2015). "Cleaning Up the Federal Cyber Debacle". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
- Ratcliffe, John; Hurd, Will (February 24, 2016). "Obama's big mistake on cyber". Politico.
- Hurd, Will. "Obama should pursue sanctions against Iran". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
- U.S. Representative Will Hurd (December 21, 2016), Anything is possible when it comes to the Russians. They are our adversary., retrieved February 7, 2017
- Congressman Elect Will Hurd Speaks Out, The News Gram (December 26, 2014).
- McSally, Martha (December 16, 2015), "Tracking Foreign Fighters in Terrorist Safe Havens Act", Congress.gov, retrieved June 10, 2017,
Ms. McSALLY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 4239, the Tracking Foreign Fighters in Terrorist Safe Havens Act. This legislation fulfills a recommendation of the Committee on Homeland Security's Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel, of which I was proud to be a member. In fact, our chairman, Mr. Katko, and another member, Mr. Hurd, are with us today to speak on this important legislation.
- Myers, Steven Lee (July 7, 2016). "Hurd Questions Recommendation Not to Prosecute". The New York Times.
- "Rep. Hurd Grills Comey: "I'm Offended By Claims This Hearing Is Political Theater"; "I've Seen My Friends Killed"". www.realclearpolitics.com. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
- Jeremy Herb; Manu Raju. "Nunes clashes with Dem\s over FBI memo review". CNN. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
- "Rep. Hurd on Nunes memo: DOJ authority should be used appropriately every time". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
- Kevin Diaz & Bill Lambrecht, Republicans face crunch time on Obamacare repeal, San Antonio Express-News (March 21, 2017).
- Jamie Lovegrove, Texas Republican faces political quandary in do-or-die GOP health care bill vote, Dallas News (March 24, 2017).
- Abby Livingston, GOP plan to overhaul health care falls apart, Texas Tribune (March 24, 2017).
- "H.R. 1628: American Health Care Act of 2017". GovTrack. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
- "Rep. Will Hurd only Texas Republican to vote against the GOP Obamacare repeal bill". Dallas News. May 2017.
- Hurd, Will (January 30, 2017). "GOP congressman: A wall is the least effective way to secure the border". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286.
- Josh Brodesky, "Straus, Hurd display political courage" (opinion), San Antonio Express-News, February 3, 2017, p. A11
- Blake, Aaron (January 31, 2017). "Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump's travel ban; here's where the rest stand". Washington Post.
- "Will Hurd's Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)". Vote Smart. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
- Will Hurd at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Information Technology Subcommittee website
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Will Hurd at On the Issues
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 23rd congressional district