WASHINGTON – Freshman U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio, raised over $500,000 in his first quarter in Congress, according to an aide.
“Will Hurd has raised more in one quarter than career politician Pete Gallego was able to raise in the first two quarters when he was in Congress, which is a sign the district is behind Will Hurd,” Josh Robinson, a Hurd consultant, said in an interview.
The 23rd Congressional District is one of the most difficult for either party to win easily; it has switched hands in four of the last five elections.
Tuesday marked the final day of the first fundraising quarter of the cycle. Robinson said that the campaign is still counting its haul and that cash-on-hand and debt figures were not immediately accessible. The Hurd campaign has until April 15 to report its first-quarter numbers.
That half-million payload reflects a significant improvement in fundraising for Hurd, and signals how much easier it is for a sitting officeholder to raise money. By comparison, Hurd raised $116,000 in his first quarter as a candidate in the 2014 cycle.
It also shows determination among Republicans to keep Hurd — one of two African-American Republicans in the U.S. House — in office.
But Democrats are equally serious about the seat. Their U.S. House campaign arm considers Texas's 23rd District a top pick-up opportunity in the fall of 2016. Democrats call Gallego a top recruit and have been raring for this fight since the beginning of the year.
Hurd defeated Gallego by 2 points in November.
"I’m confident in my strengths," Gallego said in a Thursday interview after his announcement. "I’m prepared to jump any hurdle."
He also argued that he was a better fit for the district because of what he described as his bipartisan approach, and noted that Hurd was unable to break the 50 percent threshold in 2014.
Robinson, the Hurd consultant, brushed off the announcement: "Will is going to continue to do what he’s been doing. ... He’s enjoying being in Congress, traveling the district and talking to the district's constituents."
"But in last three months," Robinson added, "he’s been able to do more than the congressmen who've represented it in the last decade, passing a balanced budget, providing seniors better access to health care and working to pass the Keystone pipeline, which will promote energy development in Texas's 23rd."