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Will Hurd, only black Republican in House, retiring

Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdChanging suburbs threaten GOP hold on Texas Bottom line Trump throws curveball on Afghan troop levels 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 ConawayBottom line House Republican introduces amendment to include farm aid in stopgap funding bill Live coverage: Democrats, Republicans seek to win PR battle in final House impeachment hearing MORE, another GOP lawmaker from Texas, announced Wednesday that he would not seek reelection. Pete OlsonPeter (Pete) Graham OlsonDemocrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade Shakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' The time for HELP is now: Senate should pass bill to expedite recovery following natural disasters 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 ClintonTrump jokingly blames 'Crooked Hillary' after his rally mic stops working The Hill's Campaign Report: Two weeks to the election l Biden leads in new polls as debate looms l Trump pressures DOJ on Hunter Biden Trump remarks put pressure on Barr 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 John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally 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-CortezOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill | Poll: Two-thirds of voters support Biden climate plan | Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes Ocasio-Cortez rolls out Twitch channel to urge voting MORE (N.Y), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarVeterans launch pro-law enforcement super PAC with battlegrounds ad buys Kamala Harris and the stereotypes we place on Black women Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair MORE (Minn.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyDemocrats unveil bill to reduce police violence against people with mental illness Perdue's rival raises nearly M after senator mispronounces Kamala Harris's name Ocasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts MORE (Mass.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOcasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Kamala Harris's facial expressions during debate go viral 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 Emmer3 congressmen on Air Force One with Trump took commercial flight after president's diagnosis House Democrats' campaign arm reserves .6M in ads in competitive districts The Hill's Convention Report: Trump to attack Biden at final night of convention | Speech comes amid hurricane, racial justice protests | Biden accuses Trump of 'rooting' for violence 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.