Texas Election: What to know about the congressional race to replace U.S. Rep. Will Hurd – El Paso Times

Here's what to know about the primary runoff in Texas. Wochit

One of the most competitive congressional races in the country is in El Paso's backyard.

The race for outgoing U.S. Rep. Will Hurd'sseat is in full swing, and on July 14 Republican voters in the district will decide who should represent their party on the November General Election ballot.

Republicans Tony Gonzalesand Raul Reyes are in a runoff for a district that spans much of the Texas-Mexico border and includes part of El Paso. Early voting in the race is ongoing and ends July 10.

The runoff election day is Tuesday, July 14.

Republicans Tony Gonzales (left) and Raul Reyes (right) are in a runoff for Congressional District 23.(Photo: Contributed)

Hurd, R-Helotes, announced last year that he wouldn't seek reelection to the House seat he won by a narrow margin in 2018.

That opened the doors for a crowded primaryin March. Gonzales, a Navy veteran, and Reyes, anAir Force veteran, garnered the most votes in the pool of nine candidates.

Gonzales received28.11% of the votes district wide, followed by Reyes who received 23.31%. In El Paso County, Reyes received37.97% of the votes and Gonzales 28.48%.

Congressional District 23 has flipped between being represented by Republicans and Democrats in the past. It's been held by a Republicansince Hurd took office in 2015, but Democrats are working to flip it.

Hurd, who has crossed party lines and criticizedPresident Donald Trump in the past, won his reelection for a two-year term in 2018 by less than 1,000 votes.

His opponent, Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer, won the Democratic primary in 2020 and is on the November ballot.

Gina Ortiz Jones(Photo: Courtesy of the Gina Ortiz Jones campaign)

"This is one of themost competitive districts in the country, so all eyes are going to be on it," said Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political science professor. "It is a district which has been purple ... Republicans have been successful in part because Will Hurd was a popular figure in the area."

Hurd receivedattention in 2017for a"bipartisan road trip"with then U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso. O'Rourke left Congress after his failed bid to upset U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018.

President Donald Trump chimed in on Twitter July 3 in the race for Texas 23rd Congressional District, announcing his endorsement of Gonzales.

Tony Gonzales will be a GREAT Congressman for Texas!, Trump wrote on Twitter. A Navy veteran, he is Strong on the Economy, Life and the Second Amendment. We need him to defeat the Radical Left in November. Tony has my Complete and Total Endorsement!

Gonzales, who has also been endorsedby Hurd, retweeted the post, thanking the president for his support.

Lets win in November! he said in the tweet.

Trump's endorsement comes just days after Sen. Cruz, R-Texas, announced his support for Reyes in the election. In an advertisement, Cruz casts Reyes as one of the "conservative warriors" needed in the House.

"President Trump needs more congressmen like Col. Reyes," Cruz says in the advertisement. "Leaders who won't surrender our border, our sovereignty, our way of life."

Jones predicted that Trump's endorsement would get Gonzalesthrough to November in a Friday tweet.

"Well, meet my likely opponent," Jones said in the tweet. "I'm a proud first-gen American, daughter of a single mom, and Iraq and Air Force veteran. And unlike him, I'm running in #TX23 to fight for affordable health care, good jobs, and an economy that works for everyone."

TheDemocratic Congressional Campaign Committee maintained that while the endorsement may help Gonzales in July, it could hurt him in November. In 2016, the district went for Clinton by just over 3 percentage points,though Hurd was elected in the congressional race.

With this toxic endorsement in a pro-Clinton and pro-Biden district, Tony Gonzales is now the overwhelming favorite to win on July 14 and lose on November 3,"DCCCspokesman Avery Jaffe said in the statement.

Reyes paints Gonzales as the establishment candidate who would be a "continuum of the legacy of Will Hurd."

Reyes' key policy issues include the Second Amendment and border security. He's for "zero red flag laws and no more infringement on the Second Amendment" and his an advocate for the construction of a border wall. He also wants to "bring jobs to district 23," including El Paso.

"We would be a powerhouse in Congress, fighting for the people, to get things really done," Reyes said.

Gonzales maintained he'sthe candidatewho can bring togethermembers of the RepublicanParty. He pointed to endorsements from Hurd, U.S. Reps. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, and Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, asexamples.

Economic growth, advocating for veterans healthcare and helping veterans transition into the workforce are areas of interest for Gonzales. Border security is also a focus of his campaign, citing a need for resources to keep communities safe, "whether that's added technology" or "resources to DHS, ICE, Border Patrol and elsewhere."

"The biggest thing that distinguishes me from Reyes, is I can unite the party," Gonzales said.

Eleanor Dearmanmay be reached at361-244-0047;edearman@elpasotimes.com; @EllyDearman on Twitter.

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Texas Election: What to know about the congressional race to replace U.S. Rep. Will Hurd - El Paso Times

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