In a closely watched race for one of the largest districts in the country, voters are deciding whether current U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) will continue in office, or if former Democratic Congressman Pete Gallego will step back into the role.
The 23rd district stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, touching Eagle Pass and Del Rio.
Considered one of the largest and most rural districts, it covers 48,000 sq. ft. and 29 counties, including 800 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.
In 2014, Will Hurd defeated incumbent Pete Gallego in the General Election by just more than 2,500 votes.
Hurd’s focus is on national security, the economy and health care for veterans.
With experience as an undercover officer in the CIA, Hurd’s investigations included Iran’s nuclear program.
Hurd believes sanctions should be placed on Iran until they come back to the negotiating table and agree to terms that allow "anytime, anywhere" inspections, the complete dismantlement of dual-use facilities and recognize Israel’s right to exist. This follows Hurd’s discovery while in the CIA of Iran seeking nuclear weapons.
One of Hurd’s main goals is to protect small business owners. For the sake of a growing economy, Hurd wants to keep the tax codes fair and simple, and loosen the IRA and EPA’s involvement with small business owners.
Hurd wishes to expand the pool of health care providers who accept the Veterans Choice Card and ensure all providers are reimbursed for care. As an example, thousands of veterans have died over the years waiting for an organ transplant because various hospitals do not accept Veterans Choice.
Since 1985, Texas’s 23rd district has flip-flopped parties – not necessarily in each election.
1967-1985: Abraham Kazen, Jr (D)
1985-1993: Albert G. Bustamante (D)
1993-2007: Henry Bonilla (R)
2007-2011: Ciro D. Rodriguez (D)
2011-2013: Francisco “Quico” Canseco (R)
2013-2015: Pete Gallego (D)
2015-present: Will Hurd (R)
The expansive reach of the district brings with it a diverse set of issues Gallego has defined as his priorities.
He represented District 23 from 2013 to 2015. He was also previously elected to the Texas House of Representatives.
Gallego is in support of immigration reform, including increasing border security and offering a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are in the country. He is proposing a plan that includes paying a fine and paying back taxes.
Gallego said during his time in the state legislature, he fought to avoid $5.4 billion dollars in funding cuts to public education.
District 23 also covers a portion of the Eagle Ford Shale.
Gallego’s position is domestic fossil fuel resources provide jobs as well as an opportunity to move towards energy independence from unstable regions. In the same breath saying it’s important to be good stewards of the future and develop green energy.
It’s no secret the oil industry comes with ups and downs. One of the most recent upheavals happened when crude oil prices dropped from around $100 in 2014 to as low as $26 a barrel earlier this year, resulting in as many as 400,000 jobs lost across the globe.
On his campaign website, Gallego released the following statement:
“I strongly believe we owe a great debt to the men and women who defend and have defended our country.”
As a son of a World War II veteran and a former member of the House Armed Services Committee, Gallego said he wants to increase funding for programs benefiting wounded veterans and helping men and women transition to find jobs when they come home.
Gallego also said he is a strong supporter of small businesses and promises to fight to keep existing jobs while attracting new ones. His plan includes closing tax loop holes for corporations that ship American jobs overseas and create new credit for those that bring them back.
"It's the closest thing we've got to a fifty-fifty district, in terms of Democratic and Republican representation," Texas political reporter and Quorum Reporter editor Harvey Kronberg said.
The Federal Elections Commission said, so far, Will Hurd has raised around $3.5 million dollars for his campaign, compared to Gallego who has raised $1.9 million.