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Top Political Handicapper Says South Texas District 'Leans Democrat' After Will Hurd's Departure 

click to enlarge After narrowly losing to Will Hurd in 2018, Gina Ortiz Jones is running to represent the same district in 2020. - COURTESY PHOTO / GINA ORTIZ JONES
  • Courtesy Photo / Gina Ortiz Jones
  • After narrowly losing to Will Hurd in 2018, Gina Ortiz Jones is running to represent the same district in 2020.
Following Republican U.S. Rep. Will Hurd's announcement that he won't run again in 2020, nonpartisan election handicapper the Cook Political Report has shifted Texas' 23rd congressional district from the "toss up" category to "leans Democrat."

Hurd has served three terms in the sprawling border district, which extends from San Antonio all the way to El Paso, eking out his 2018 victory over Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones by fewer than 1,000 votes.

Key to those wins, according to Cook's analysis, was Hurd's tireless retail campaigning and a willingness to stand up to President Trump on issues unpopular in the South Texas district — namely, the border wall and locking immigrant kids in cages.

"Republicans will be hard-pressed to find a candidate who can replicate Hurd's appeal," Cook analyst David Wasserman wrote, adding that the congressman was "probably the only Republican capable of holding Texas's massive 23rd District."

Wasserman acknowledged the recent victory of Republican Pete Flores in a state senate district that overlaps with much of the 23rd. However, he noted that the 2020 race will result in higher Hispanic turnout and "complicate the math" for a potential GOP challenger.

At least two other candidates, including journalist Liz Wahl and activist Rosalinda "Rosey" Ramos Abuabara, are also chasing the Democratic nomination to represent the district. However, Jones ended June with $597,000 in campaign funds, giving her a leg up on challengers from either side of the aisle.

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