Vulnerable Texas GOP lawmaker survives rematch

Republican Will Hurd declared victory over former Rep. Pete GallegoPete Pena GallegoGOP candidate scores upset win in Texas state Senate runoff Koch group launches digital ads in tight Texas House race Iraq War vet wins Texas Dem runoff MORE (D) in a hotly-contested rematch in southwestern Texas, sending the freshman lawmaker back for another term.

Gallego conceded the race after Hurd declared victory, according to local media reports. 

The rematch in Texas’ 23rd, a heavily Hispanic-majority district, was closely watched as a barometer for whether Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE's immigration rhetoric would give an edge to Texas Democrats.

But amidst a stunning upset showing by the Republican nominee, speculation was silenced that “the Trump effect” would adversely affect incumbents down-ballot.

Many GOP lawmakers who Democrats hoped to unseat this year stayed afloat — including Hurd, one of the few African-American Republicans in Congress. 

Hurd was largely silent on the controversial presidential nominee until the October release of a tape revealing Trump bragging about grabbing women by the genitals, when he called on him to leave the race.

Gallego, who served one term in the House before going down narrowly to Hurd in 2014, had attempted to tie his rival to Trump throughout the race.

“Will, an expert in foreign policy, was not willing to say for 15 months, who he would support for commander-in-chief,” Gallego said in an interview with The Hill last week.

The race was seen as neck-in-neck into the final stretches, with a victory for Hurd certain only early on Wednesday morning.

Gallegos ran a heavy door-to-door ground game across the state's largest district, a sprawling swath of Texas that encompasses both El Paso and San Antonio.

But in the end, it wasn’t enough.

A former CIA operative, Hurd has made a name for himself in his first term as a cybersecurity policy wonk. Chairman of the House Oversight Committee’s IT subcommittee, Hurd has been a vocal proponent of IT modernization in the federal government.

He is seen as tough on border security but has said he opposes building a border wall because he sees it as an ineffective way to enforce security.

Gallego expressed support for Obama immigration policies as well as the DREAM Act while in office. 

--Rafael Bernal contributed.