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Retiring U.S. Rep. Will Hurd Endorses Candidate To Succeed Him

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, speaks with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith at the opening keynote of the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2019. (Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune)

By Patrick Svitek, Texas Tribune

Retiring U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, is endorsing a candidate to succeed him in his battleground district.

Hurd on Wednesday gave his support to Navy veteran Tony Gonzales in the crowded GOP field, saying Gonzales "embodies the American Dream" and calling him essential to keeping the 23rd District red.

"I care deeply about the hard-working men and women of the 23rd District and want to make sure their next Representative has their values and will fight for them in Congress," Hurd said in statement. "This is why I am pleased to endorse 20-year Navy Veteran, loyal husband and proud father of five children, Tony Gonzales, to be my successor in Congress."

Hurd has previously complimented Gonzales but stopped short of endorsing him. He is one of at least nine Republicans who have lined up for the seat, a perennially competitive race that is now one of six in Texas that national Democrats are targeting. The most recent entrant in the GOP primary is Sharon Breckenridge Thomas, a San Antonio attorney and Gov. Greg Abbott appointee to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

In backing Gonzales, who is Mexican American, Hurd nodded to one of his political priorities now that he is not running for reelection: helping create a more diverse Texas GOP.

"If the Republican Party does not look like Texas and resonate with all Texans, there won’t be a Republican Party in Texas," said Hurd, the only black Republican in the House. "We need conservatives like Tony to take our message to all parts of the district to prevent the creep of socialism that we've seen in other parts of the Country. ... To keep the 23rd District red, we need Tony Gonzales."

On the Democratic side, there are half a dozen candidates, including Gina Ortiz Jones, who is running again after her 2018 loss to Hurd by a razor-thin margin. She has built a massive fundraising advantage as Republicans have had to regroup following Hurd's August announcement that he will not seek reelection.