5 Things to Know About Will Hurd

Former Representative Will Hurd, a Republican from a swing district in Texas who served three terms, faces the daunting task of establishing himself in a field of much better-known presidential candidates.

Here are five things to know about Mr. Hurd, who announced his 2024 bid on Thursday.

Mr. Hurd got a job with the C.I.A. straight out of college in 2000 and spent more than eight years as an undercover agent, with stints in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan.

His first assignment with the C.I.A. came after Al Qaeda suicide bombers attacked the U.S.S. Cole, an American warship, killing 17 crew members. His next assignment came after Sept. 11.

In an interview with The Guardian last year, he said the job had ended his engagement to a fiancée: “You know, it probably had a chilling effect on our relationship, especially when you confirm: ‘Hey babe, I actually work in the C.I.A., and we’re going to Islamabad. Pack your bags. Great!’”

Mr. Hurd has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Texas A&M University and, after leaving the C.I.A., worked as a senior adviser at a cybersecurity firm called FusionX.

When he was elected to Congress in 2014, he made cybersecurity one of his main focuses and led the House Oversight Subcommittee on Information Technology.

He organized a hearing in 2015 on encryption and its potential effects on law enforcement’s investigative abilities — an issue he discussed in an interview with Motherboard at a hacking conference that year. He opposed efforts backed by intelligence agencies to weaken encryption on smartphones.

He has continued to work in the technology arena since leaving Congress in 2021, and joined the board of OpenAI, the artificial intelligence laboratory that developed ChatGPT.

Mr. Hurd has not been shy about criticizing former President Donald J. Trump, and has done so since Mr. Trump first ran in 2016.

In October 2016, after the release of the “Access Hollywood” recording in which Mr. Trump bragged about assaulting women, Mr. Hurd called on him to leave the presidential race. In 2017, he urged Mr. Trump to apologize for claiming there was violence “on many sides” during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. And in 2018, in a guest essay for The New York Times, he wrote that Mr. Trump had “actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign.”

Mr. Hurd also denounced many components of Mr. Trump’s immigration policy — describing his proposed border wall as a “third-century solution to a 21st-century problem,” calling the separation of migrant children from their parents “unacceptable,” and saying that his ban on travelers from a list of majority-Muslim countries “endangers the lives of thousands of American men and women in our military, diplomatic corps and intelligence services.”

Mr. Hurd represented one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country — a vast, largely Hispanic stretch of South Texas that he won by 2.1 percentage points in 2014, 1.3 percentage points in 2016 and half a percentage point in 2018 — and his voting record reflected that.

Breaking from Republican orthodoxy, Mr. Hurd supported legislation to end a government shutdown in 2019 and to protect L.G.B.T.Q. people from discrimination. He also pushed for immigration reform, including protecting young people from deportation.

And he drew attention in 2017 for a live-streamed road trip from Texas to Washington with Beto O’Rourke, then a Democratic member of Congress.

“My final message for my colleagues as I depart this body: Don’t treat bipartisanship like a four-letter word,” he said in his farewell speech from the House floor.

Mr. Hurd did vote the Republican line most of the time. In 2015 and 2017, he supported bills to ban abortion after 20 weeks. And though he voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2017, that was only after it became clear that the bill would pass anyway; he was opposed to the Obama-era policy. He also opposed the Iran nuclear deal and called for a more hawkish policy against the Islamic State.

When Mr. Hurd was first sworn into Congress in January 2015, he was one of only two Black Republicans in the House. By the time he left in January 2021, he was the only one.

He is the son of a Black father and a white mother, and has spoken about his background and his experience as a person of color on many occasions.

“Two centuries ago, I would have been counted as three-fifths of a person, and today, I can say I’ve had the honor of serving three terms in Congress,” he said in a statement upon announcing in 2019 that he would not run for re-election.

At the time, he said he was leaving in part because he thought he could be more effective in electing more diverse Republicans to Congress from the outside — though that has not ended up being his professional focus. The number of Black Republicans in the House has rebounded slightly, to four.

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