A recent history of Texas’ most competitive congressional district: CD-23

2018 race was decided by less than 1,000 votes

CD-23 map
CD-23 map (Texas Tribune)

Texas Republican Will Hurd has held the Congressional District 23 seat since 2014, but that doesn’t mean the seat will be reliably red this November as he departs from office.

The district, which spans roughly 58,000 square miles from San Antonio through West Texas along the Mexico border, is the most competitive seat in the state, according to the Cook Political Report. The district is in parts of 29 counties and spans two time zones.

Before early voting kicks off in Texas on Oct. 13, KSAT will host a debate on Oct. 8 between Gina Ortiz Jones and Tony Gonzales in Uvalde.

The slight Republican leaning of the district could be upended by the high turnout of the presidential election, which is expected to be historic. The history of the district shows just how close past races have been. For comparison purposes, we’re focusing on the races since the district’s current boundaries were drawn by the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature after the 2010 elections.

Editor’s note: Click on the player toward the top-right of the graphic to play a timeline lapse of the previous five congressional races in CD-23.

The seat hasn’t been held by a Democrat since 2012, when Pete Gallego beat Francisco Canseco by more than 9,000 votes for a 5% win. That win was the most decisive victory in the district since 2010. The boundaries will be redrawn again next year during the Legislature’s redistricting process, informed by the 2020 census.

Since 2011 redistricting, voters leaned conservative, placing Hurd in office over Gallego by a margin of more than 2,000 votes in 2014, or 2%. Hurd, a former CIA officer from Helotes, won on a centrist platform.

Hurd made a name for himself in Congress, leading him to slightly bigger win over Gallego in a 2016 rematch. That race was decided by 3,051 votes. Due to increased turnout, Hurd only won by less than 2% of the vote.

In 2018, Gina Ortiz Jones hoped to flip the seat and beat Hurd. Though Democrats became the majority party in the House of Representatives, Hurd narrowly beat out Jones in one of the closest races of that election.

Jones won 48.73% of the vote, while Hurd won 49.17%, a difference of 0.44% or 926 votes.

After the narrow win, Hurd quickly decided against seeking reelection, leaving Senator Tim Scott as the only Black Republican in Congress. Hurd criticized President Donald Trump at times for racist rhetoric. The congressman said his goal is to make the Republican Party more diverse to match up with the country’s changing demographics.

Jones, a U.S. Air Force veteran, has another shot at the seat this November against political newcomer and Navy veteran Tony Gonzales.

Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones and Republican Tony Gonzales are candidates for Texas' Congressional District 23. (Illustration by Henry Keller/KSAT)

Among the most important issues for this district include border security and health care.

Gonzales is running on ramping up border security and supports building more border wall, though he recently expressed a desire to see ports of entry open up again along the border in a recent interview on The Carpenter’s Apprentice, a San Antonio talk show that airs on social media.

Jones said she hopes to work on immigration reform that does not force “vulnerable communities into the shadows,” according to her platform, saying that safety and responsible immigration can both be accomplished.

Jones, who favors a public option in health care, has attacked Gonzales, whose party has not yet introduced a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Gonzales, however, has said he’s committed to protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions.

While Jones has the fundraising advantage on Gonzales, Gonzales carries the endorsements of Trump and Hurd. The race is expected to be a close one.

Have a question for the candidates ahead of the debate? Send it in the prompt below.

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About the Author:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.