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Will Hurd, only black Republican in House, retiring

Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdPence autobiography coming from Simon & Schuster Prince Harry joins Aspen Institute commission on misinformation Congress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent MORE (R-Texas), the only African American Republican in the House of Representatives, announced Thursday night that he will not seek reelection in 2020. 

"I have made the decision to not seek reelection for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas in order to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security," Hurd said on Twitter. 

Hurd's abrupt decision to not seek reelection comes amid a period of flux inside the Republican Party. He becomes the sixth GOP lawmaker and third House Republican from Texas to announce his retirement in the past two weeks. 

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Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayEx-Rep. Mike Conaway, former aide launch lobbying firm Thompson named top Republican on Agriculture Bottom line MORE, another GOP lawmaker from Texas, announced Wednesday that he would not seek reelection. Pete OlsonPeter (Pete) Graham OlsonHouse Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit Republican Fort Bend County Sheriff wins Texas House seat 10 bellwether House races to watch on election night MORE also announced his retirement last month.

Hurd said in a statement that he left a job in the CIA to run for Congress in 2014 to help give the lower chamber leadership in areas related to intelligence and national security. 

"While Congress has a role in these issues, so does the private sector and civil society," he said. "After reflecting on how best to help our country address these challenges, I’m leaving the House of Representatives to help our country in a different way."

Hurd added that he would continue to remain in politics to "help make sure the Republican Party looks like America."

Hurd represents a congressional district that stretches along the U.S.-Mexico border between San Antonio and El Paso. The seat has flipped between Republicans and Democrats five times since the 1990s, The New York Times has noted

The district voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhy does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Republican legislators target private sector election grants How Democrats can defy the odds in 2022 MORE in 2016, the same year Hurd won reelection to his second term.

Hurd narrowly held on to his seat in 2018, fending off a challenge from Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones. Following Hurd's retirement announcement, the 23rd Congressional District moved from "toss-up" to "leans Democratic," according to Crystal Ball House ratings. The Cook Political Report rates Hurd's district as "Republican toss up."

Jones launched a 2020 campaign for Hurd's seat in May. 

Hurd has shown a willingness to criticize President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to move ahead with billion UAE weapons sale approved by Trump Fox News hires high-profile defense team in Dominion defamation lawsuit Associate indicted in Gaetz scandal cooperating with DOJ: report MORE. He was one of the four House Republicans last month to vote to condemn Trump's attacks against a group of minority congresswomen as racist. 

Trump had told four freshman House Democrats — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezNY House Democrats demand repeal of SALT cap The Memo: How liberal will the Biden presidency be? Five hurdles Democrats face to pass an infrastructure bill MORE (N.Y), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarNew York Times defends itself against Project Veritas defamation suit Tlaib: US policing 'intentionally racist,' can't be reformed Biden, first lady send 'warmest greetings' to Muslims for Ramadan MORE (Minn.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyFDA ends restrictions on mailing abortion pills during pandemic Tlaib: US policing 'intentionally racist,' can't be reformed Pelosi's advice for the 'Squad': 'You're not a one-person show' MORE (Mass.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibObama on Daunte Wright: We need to reimagine policing Tlaib: US policing 'intentionally racist,' can't be reformed Biden, first lady send 'warmest greetings' to Muslims for Ramadan MORE (Mich) — to "go back" to the "crime infested places" they came from. 

But Hurd has said that he will vote for Trump again if he is the Republican nominee in 2020. He reiterated his position to The Washington Post in an interview on Thursday. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee expressed optimism about winning Hurd's seat. 

"Hurd has been a lockstep supporter of the worst of Washington Republicans’ policies and he sealed his fate when he pledged to vote for Donald Trump in 2020," DCCC spokesman Avery Jaffe said. "Democrats will win this seat and if Will Hurd doesn’t believe he can keep his job in a changing Texas, his colleagues must be having second thoughts too."

Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Manny Garcia suggested in a statement that Hurd's retirement stemmed from knowing "his time was up."

“The simple facts are that hypocrite Trump Republican Will Hurd did not stand a chance in the 23rd congressional district," Garcia said. "Texas Democrats are rising up everywhere, clearly Will Hurd knew his time was up."

Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerTrump digs in on attacks against Republican leaders GOP campaign chief confident his party will win back House Letlow wins Louisiana special House election to replace late husband MORE (R-Minn.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, pushed back against claims that Hurd's district was shifting leftward. 

"Contrary to what the pundits will tell you, this is an R+1 district and we will fight tooth and nail to ensure it remains in Republican hands in 2020," Emmer said in a statement. 

Updated at 8:30 p.m.