Will Hurd is an American politician who served as the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 23rd congressional district from 2015 to 2021. He was the first black Republican elected to Congress from Texas. Prior to entering politics, Hurd worked for the CIA for nearly a decade as an operations officer.
He decided to run for Congress in 2010 but lost in the Republican primary. He ran again in 2014 and narrowly defeated the Democratic incumbent. During his three terms in Congress, Hurd was known as a moderate Republican who sought bipartisan compromise on issues such as immigration reform and national security. He did not seek reelection in 2020. This article will provide a comprehensive biography of Will Hurd’s life, career, accomplishments, and controversies.
Early Life and Education
Will Hurd was born on August 19, 1977 in San Antonio, Texas. He was raised primarily in San Antonio by his mother, a San Antonio native, and his father, Robert Hurd, an African-American man originally from Pennsylvania. Hurd’s parents separated when he was young.
Hurd attended John Marshall High School, a prestigious public magnet school in San Antonio. He was a standout student and graduated as class valedictorian in 1995.
After high school, Hurd attended Texas A&M University and majored in computer science. He served as student body president during his senior year and graduated in 1999 with a B.S. in computer science.
Will Hurd’s Early Life:
- Born on August 19, 1977 in San Antonio, Texas
- Raised in San Antonio by his mother and father, who separated when he was young
- Graduated as valedictorian from John Marshall High School in 1995
- Earned B.S. in computer science from Texas A&M University in 1999
- Served as Texas A&M student body president his senior year
Early Career and CIA Service
After graduating from Texas A&M, Hurd worked for a year as an intern in the office of Congressman Ken Bentsen. In 2000, he moved to Washington D.C. and took a job with Crumpton Group, a national security advisory firm run by a former CIA officer.
In 2002, Hurd decided to join the CIA. He went through rigorous training and eventually became an operations officer within the CIA’s National Clandestine Service. Hurd was stationed primarily in South Asia and the Middle East during his tenure with the CIA. His exact assignments and activities remain classified.
Hurd spent nearly a decade as a CIA officer. He served in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some sources claim he managed Humint (human intelligence) operations in Pakistan’s turbulent western tribal regions. He apparently impressed his superiors and was awarded the Career Intelligence Medal upon leaving the agency.
After leaving the CIA in 2009, Hurd returned to Texas and became a partner at a San Antonio-based cybersecurity firm called FusionX. He also began plotting a run for Congress.
Will Hurd’s CIA Career:
- Joined the CIA in 2002 after working for a national security advisory firm
- Served nearly a decade as a clandestine operations officer
- Stationed primarily in South Asia and Middle East
- Managed intelligence operations in Pakistan’s western tribal regions (allegedly)
- Awarded Career Intelligence Medal upon departure in 2009
Running for Congress and Early Political Career
In 2010, Will Hurd decided to run for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District seat. The district, which stretches from San Antonio to El Paso along the U.S-Mexico border, has long been considered a swing district. Hurd lost in the 2010 Republican primary to Francisco “Quico” Canseco, who went on to win the general election.
After his 2010 defeat, Hurd remained active in Republican politics. He served as a senior advisor to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s presidential campaign in 2012.
When Canseco lost his re-election bid in 2012 to Democratic challenger Pete Gallego, Hurd saw another opportunity. He ran again for the 23rd District seat in 2014, defeating Gallego by just 2,400 votes. Hurd’s victory made him the first black Republican elected to Congress from Texas.
Will Hurd’s Early Political Career:
- Ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District seat
- Served as senior advisor to Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign after 2010 defeat
- Ran again in 2014 and narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Pete Gallego
- Became first black Republican elected to Congress from Texas
Congressional Tenure (2015-2021)
Will Hurd was sworn into Congress in January 2015. He easily won re-election in 2016 and 2018. As a congressman, Hurd developed a reputation as a moderate willing to work across the aisle. He disagreed with his party on certain issues, including marijuana legalization and immigration reform.
In 2017, Hurd teamed up with Democratic Congressman Pete Aguilar to introduce the USA Act, bipartisan legislation to protect DREAMers and improve border security. The bill received support from congressmen on both sides of the aisle but ultimately failed to pass.
Hurd served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He was a vocal critic of President Trump’s border wall and called for a more nuanced border security approach leveraging technology.
In 2019, Hurd was the only House Republican to vote in favor of a resolution condemning many of Trump’s tweets as racist. He also supported impeachment proceedings against Trump over the Ukraine scandal.
Despite his differences with Trump, Hurd maintained a largely conservative voting record over his three terms. Some of his policy positions included:
- Voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act
- Supporting major tax cuts passed in 2017
- Opposing stricter gun regulations after mass shootings
- Voting to make the Hyde Amendment permanent to block federal abortion funding
Will Hurd’s Time in Congress:
- Served 3 terms from 2015-2021 as congressman from Texas’ 23rd district
- Developed reputation as moderate willing to compromise with Democrats
- Introduced bipartisan DREAMer legislation with Rep. Pete Aguilar
- Served on House Intelligence Committee and criticized Trump’s policies
- Compiled overall conservative voting record despite breaking with GOP on some issues
Retirement from Congress
In August 2019, Will Hurd surprised many when he announced that he would not seek reelection in 2020. He cited a desire to pursue opportunities outside politics and expressed hope that he had helped make the Republican party more inclusive during his tenure.
Hurd’s retirement was seen as a blow to Republicans’ hopes of reclaiming control of the House in 2020. Texas’ 23rd district was a prime pickup opportunity for the GOP. Hurd was a strong incumbent, having won his previous election by just 926 votes.
Without Hurd on the ballot, the seat was viewed much more favorably for Democrats. The district ultimately flipped blue in 2020 when Gina Ortiz Jones defeated the Republican nominee.
Following his retirement announcement, Hurd was mentioned as a possible candidate for U.S. Senate or governor. However, he did not enter any races in the 2020 election cycle.
Hurd’s next moves will be closely watched as one of the most prominent young black Republicans in the country. Some speculate he could make another bid for elected office in Texas down the road.
Will Hurd’s Retirement:
- Announced in August 2019 he would not seek reelection in 2020
- Cited desire to pursue opportunities outside politics as reason for retiring
- Hurd’s retirement seen as blow to GOP hopes of reclaiming House
- Texas’ 23rd district flipped from red to blue in 2020 after Hurd’s exit
- Next moves closely watched as he is seen as rising star in Republican party
Personal Life and Facts
- Will Hurd has never been married and does not have children. He maintains a very private personal life.
- His hobbies and interests include watching movies, reading spy novels, and going to hip hop concerts. He also enjoys sports and is a fan of the San Antonio Spurs.
- Hurd’s brother Jon Hurd played cornerback for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.
- His father Robert Hurd worked for 30 years as a hotel manager. His mother Mary Alice Mills still lives in the San Antonio area.
- Hurd claims he decided to join the CIA at age 26 after reading about the agency’s lack of diversity and the public backlash against spies following controversies in the 1990s.
- He has cited his experience living in dangerous places abroad with the CIA as motivation for seeking compromise and valuing life.
- Hurd’s net worth was estimated to be around $2 million as of 2018, making him one of the least wealthy members of Congress.
Personal Facts About Will Hurd:
- Never married, no children
- Enjoys movies, books, concerts, and sports
- Brother Jon played in NFL
- Father Robert was hotel manager, mother Mary Alice lives in San Antonio
- Cites CIA experience as shaping his moderate political views
- Estimated net worth around $2 million, making him one of least wealthy congressmen