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Immigration, Border Security Debate Could play into 23rd District Race

The 23rd Congressional District of Texas (US Dept. of the Interior)

The sprawling 23rd Congressional District of Texas is one of the more politically unique regions in the state. Stretching along the border from Eagle Pass west through the Chihuahuan Desert and into El Paso, it's pretty much the only place in Texas where Democrats have had a stronghold over the years.

Democrats held power from the time the district was formed in the late 1960's until the early 1990's, and in recent years it's been increasingly hard to tell which way the vote will swing.

Texas Tribune reporter Julián Aguilar has been following the race between incumbent U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego and Republican challenger Will Hurd of San Antonio. He joined us to talk about how the race is shaping up.

As Aguilar reports, Hurd is a relatively unknown candidate who wasn't expected to win the nomination over Francisco "Quico" Canseco, especially since he lost to Canseco four years ago.

Still, Gallego acknowledges that doesn't necessarily mean it will be an easy race:
“I learned long ago you run unopposed or you run scared,” said Gallego, 52, who is in his first term in Congress after serving 11 terms in the Texas House. He added, “By the nature of the district, it is a competitive race.”
Aguilar says time will tell whether the increasingly heated debate over immigration policy and border security will still be as contentious an issue by November, but the planned law enforcement surge in Texas border communities suggests it very well could be.

Here & Now recently spoke with KUT's Ben Philpott about CD-23 and the Gallego v. Hurd race.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.