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Race For Texas' 23rd District Likely To Be Among The Nation's Fiercest

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune
U.S. Rep. Will Hurd at a Texas Tribune event on Dec. 18, 2014

From Texas Standard:

Even as President Donald Trump and the news media mark the 100th day of his administration, the thoughts of those keeping up with politics are already turning to the 2018 midterm elections.



Karen Tumulty, a native Texan and the national political correspondent for the Washington Post, says the race for Texas' 23rd Congressional District is likely to be among the most closely-watched races in the nation.

"It is the only true swing district in Texas,” Tumulty says. "This is a district that last year voted narrowly for Hillary Clinton, but it also voted to re-elect [U.S. Rep.] Will Hurd to Congress."

Tumulty says only two dozen districts in the nation split their votes between parties in this way. But the 23rd district has a history of volatility. Voters have turned out four incumbent members of Congress since 2006.

"If you are looking for a place that's going to be extremely sensitive to what the national rhythms are in the mid-term election,” Tumulty says, “it is really going to be hard to find a better place than this district, especially considering the fact that it also has about a third of the U.S.-Mexico border."

The district is huge, too – larger in area than 29 states. Tumulty says its demographics aren't those of a typical Republican Congressional District.

"It's overwhelming majority Latino district," Tumulty says. "Interestingly enough, Will Hurd is an African-American in a district where … fewer than 4 percent of the population is."

For Democrats, Hurd's district is a top priority, Tumulty says.

"Last year, it was the most expensive Congressional race in the history of the state of Texas," she says. “Part of the Democrats' strategy for retaking the district is to tie Hurd to President Trump.

"For Will Hurd, the key to survival is not only distancing himself from the president on some hot-button issues like the wall, which is not popular, but also making the race more about the very unique identity he is trying to carve out for himself," Tumulty says.

Trump at 100

The 100-day mark of the new administration has attracted a lot of attention, both from the media, and the president himself. It comes as Congress must pass funding that avoids a government shutdown, while addressing the president's funding requests, including the border wall, Tumulty says

"There is certainly a lot of desire on the part of everyone to get this funding bill that would keep the government open," Tumulty says. "Certainly for Republicans – they are in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House now, and it's a basic management problem if they can't do this."

Written by Shelly Brisbin.

Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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