Hurd, who’s served in the House since 2015, said he wants to focus on addressing issues like relations with China, poverty in Central America and the rise of artificial intelligence from the private sector.
“After reflecting on how best to help our country address these challenges, I have made the decision to not seek reelection for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas in order to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security,” he said.
Hurd’s departure leaves the House without a single black Republican.
Though he’s been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump and denounced the president’s recent racist remarks about congresswomen of color, he’s already pledged to vote for Trump in next year’s election.
Hurd narrowly won his seat last year in a face-off against Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones, an Air Force veteran and career civil servant in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. Jones ― who would have made history as the first lesbian, the first Iraq War veteran and the first Filipina American to hold a U.S. House seat in Texas ― announced in May that she’s running for the seat again.
Democrats have high hopes of flipping the district. It was on the party’s “Red to Blue” list of high-priority districts during the 2018 election, when Jones lost by just 926 votes.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Avery Jaffe said Thursday that Hurd’s announcement bodes well for Democrats everywhere.
“Democrats will win this seat and if Will Hurd doesn’t believe he can keep his job in a changing Texas, his colleagues must be having second thoughts too,” Jaffe said in a statement.
Hurd’s announcement comes a week after Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) announced that he, too, would not seek reelection next year. He also narrowly won his race in Texas’ 22nd District against Democratic opponent Sri Preston Kulkarni, a former diplomat who’s also already announced his 2020 campaign.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, meanwhile, responded to Hurd’s news with a promise to “fight tooth and nail” to keep the district red.
CORRECTION: The headline on this article has been updated to note that Hurd is the last House black Republican, not the last black Republican in Congress.