The majority-Hispanic 23rd Congressional District remains the ripest in the state for a Democratic pickup in 2018, and Democrat Pete Gallego appears likely to make another go at reclaiming it from Will Hurd, the Republican who defeated Gallego by narrow margins in 2014 and 2016.
But first, Gallego, who won the seat in 2012, will have to get past at least three other Democratic candidates emboldened by Gallego’s inability to close the deal in the last two outings.
“Sequels are bad, trilogies are worse, and this guy is no Rocky IV,” said Rick Treviño, a San Antonio high school teacher who was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and an unsuccessful candidate for City Council.
Treviño filed the necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Friday. He will run as an “authentic progressive,” calling for Medicare for all, free public college and a $15 minimum wage tied to inflation.
The same day, Jay Hulings, a federal prosecutor with experience in border, corruption and intelligence cases, completed his last day of work after seven years on the job, first in Del Rio and then in San Antonio, and leaped into the race.
Hulings is an ally of former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and his twin brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-San Antonio, with whom he attended Harvard Law School.
Earlier this month, Gina Ortiz Jones, an Iraq veteran and former Air Force intelligence officer who served as special adviser to the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was the first Democratic candidate in the race. Her last job was as director for investment at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, where she reviewed foreign investments for security risks. But, she said, she concluded that she could not work in the Trump administration and decided to come back to Texas to run for Congress.
Judy Canales of Eagle Pass, who served in the Agriculture Department during the Obama and Clinton administrations, is also considering a possible Democratic candidacy.
Hurd, the most moderate Republican member of the Texas congressional delegation, is a former undercover CIA agent and serves on the House Intelligence Committee. He has kept his political distance from President Donald Trump. Hurd, who grew up in San Antonio, lives in the suburb of Helotes.
Hurd’s recent weeklong tour of the sprawling, evenly divided district, holding 20 town hall meetings, drew national press coverage, and the race is sure to be one of the marquee contests nationally in 2018.
Treviño, who resigned his job as an 11th-grade U.S. history teacher at Sam Houston High School to make the run, plans to traverse the district in his 2006 Toyota Camry, which has 150,000 miles on it. He grew up in Laredo.
In his City Hall bid, in which he narrowly missed making the runoff, he had the backing of Our Revolution, the grass-roots activist group formed by Sanders after the 2016 election.
Hulings, who grew up the child of two CIA agents and was on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee, said he is best positioned to go toe-to-toe with Hurd on intelligence issues.
The vast district stretches from San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso.