The Texas Republican talked about his tenure and why he’s leaving Congress at a GSPM MasterClass Series.
By B.L. Wilson
U.S. Rep. William Hurd (R-Texas), seen by pundits as one of the GOP’s rising stars, is not running for reelection in 2020 after serving three terms in Congress.
His decision comes as Turkey invades Syria and attacks the Kurds, U.S. allies in a region where the San Antonio native was an undercover Central Intelligence Agency officer and a focal point of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, on which he serves.
“We’re at a point where our friends don’t trust us, and our enemies don’t fear us,” he said during a Graduate School of Political Management MasterClass on Tuesday. “I learned in the CIA, be nice to the nice guys and tough with the tough guys.”
The event, held in the School of Media and Public Affairs broadcast studio, was moderated by Steven Billet, GSPM director of legislative affairs.
“We looked them in the eye and said, ‘We have your back,’” Mr. Hurd told an audience of GSPM students and alumni in the fifth of a series of conversations with political, business and public relations leaders.
“The big winner is Russia,” he said. That country has taken over the footprint in a region the United States had held with only 1,000 troops because of one decision that reflects “a lack of understanding of history and how to manage and operate in that region.
“We now face a situation of allies’ eroding support at a time when U.S. economic and military dominance is no longer guaranteed,” he said. “The only way you ensure our way of life as an economic superpower is to have allies, a mix of soft power and hard power.”
When Dr. Billet asked why he left the CIA to go to Congress, the representative told the story of a congressional delegation’s visit to Afghanistan when he was a CIA officer who “wore local clothes, had a big bushy beard and everybody thought [I] was the biggest Pakistani they had ever seen.”
He said a senior member of the delegation didn’t know the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam after serving on the Intelligence Committee for five years and that was “unacceptable.”
When he finished his tour in Afghanistan, he returned to his hometown and ran for Congress, losing the first time by 700 votes.
Mr. Hurd said he is leaving Congress because wants to serve the country in a different way. “It wasn’t supposed to be for 30 years,” he said.
“I have been proud of my time in Congress,” he said. “I’ve been able to get 16 pieces of legislation signed into law under Democratic and Republican presidents and Democratic and Republican speakers.
“The only way to get big things done is by doing them together,” said Mr. Hurd. “The notion over the last couple of election cycles that the only way to get things done is with a unified government is a terrible precedent and won’t last more than one congressional cycle.”
He said he plans to help candidates across the country because he wants to see Republicans elected who reflect his brand of conservatism and disagreed that there would not be an African American in the House Republican Caucus for a couple or more years.
“The Republican Party needs to start looking like America and appealing to all Americans,” he said. “If we don’t, we won’t have a Republican Party in America.”
He said he plans to work in media, the private sector and possibly academia, focusing on the intersection of technology and national security and continuing to develop artificial intelligence.
“The only thing that I agree with Vladimir Putin on is when he says, ‘Who ever masters AI masters the world,’” particularly achieving 5G network capacity and quantum supremacy, he said, adding that the main U.S. competitor is China.
“People say, ‘I’m retiring,’” Mr. Hurd said. “I’m 42. I’m not retiring.”