Will Hurd, a former House Republican, opens bid for presidency with attack on Trump

June 23, 2023

Will Hurd—a former Texas congressman who was part of a diminishing bloc of Republican moderates in the House and was the only Black member of his caucus when he left office in 2021—announced his candidacy for president on Thursday, June 22, with a video message that attacked the G.O.P. front-runner, former President Donald. Trump, reports The New York Times.

If we nominate a lawless, selfish, failed politician like Donald Trump, who lost the House, the Senate and the White House, we all know Joe Biden will win again,” he said, referring to Republican losses in the 2018 and 2022 midterm elections, in addition to Trump’s own defeat in 2020.

Hurd, 45, represented the 23rd District for three terms before deciding not to run for re-election in 2020, when a host of G.O.P. moderates in Congress chose to retire instead of appearing on a ticket led by President Trump.

His district was larger than some states, extending from El Paso to San Antonio along the southwestern border.

Mr. Hurd, who also made an appearance on CBS Mornings, emphasized in his video that Republicans needed to nominate a forward-looking candidate who could unite the party and country.

A formidable gauntlet awaits Hurd, a long-shot candidate in a crowded G.O.P. presidential field. To qualify for the party’s first debate in August, candidates are required to muster support of at least 1% in multiple national polls recognized by the Republican National Committee. There are also fund-raising thresholds—including a minimum of 40,000 unique donors to individual campaigns.

Before entering politics, Hurd was an undercover officer for the C.I.A.; and his tenure of nearly a decade with the agency included work in Afghanistan.

In Congress, he developed a reputation for working across the aisle and drew attention in 2017 when he carpooled from Texas to Washington with Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat and House colleague.

While Hurd largely toed the Republican line, he was also known for bucking Trump. During his final term in the House, Hurd voted more than one-third of the time against Mr. Trump’s positions.

Hurd was a particularly strident critic of the president’s push to build a wall along the entire southern border, a cause célèbre for Trump that he ran on in 2016. In a 2019 interview with Rolling Stone, Hurd called Trump’s border wall initiative a “third-century solution to a 21st-century problem.”

It was not the first time that Hurd had spoken so bluntly in opposition to a piece of Trump’s agenda. When Trump signed an executive order in January 2017 blocking citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, one of the first acts of his presidency, Hurd condemned it, saying the policy “endangers the lives of thousands of American men and women in our military, diplomatic corps and intelligence services.”

And when Trump attacked four freshman Democratic congresswomen of color in 2019, Hurd denounced the president and criticized the direction of the Republican Party.

“The party is not growing in some of the largest parts of our country,” he said in a June 2019 speech to the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative L.G.B.T.Q. group. “Why is that? I’ll tell you.”

“Don’t be a racist,” Hurd continued, according to The Washington Blade. “Don’t be a misogynist, right? Don’t be a homophobe. These are real basic things that we all should learn when we were in kindergarten.”

But while Hurd broke with Trump on some notable occasions, he also dismayed Trump’s critics when he voted in lock step with House Republicans against impeaching Trump the first time in December 2019. Trump was impeached in a party-line vote by the House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but acquitted by the Senate.

Research contact: @nytimes