SAN ANTONIO — Texas’s 23rd Congressional is huge, and considered a swing district, where even the smallest towns can make or break a candidate.
It's a vast congressional district that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, and covers hundreds of miles along the border.
Republican incumbent Rep. Will Hurd is trying to hold on to his seat against Democratic Challenger Gina Ortiz Jones.
“Many of the issues are the same. Whether it’s Mentone, population 19 or San Antonio, population 1.3 million," Hurd said.
The incumbent is looking for a third term this November. We got a chance to sit down with the former CIA officer who grew up in the Helotes area.
“My closest friends still live in this area,” he said. “This is a place where I go to eat and hangout. It’s cool representing my hometown.”
Education, veterans and taxes and economy are some of his top priorities.
“People want to ensure that they have a good wage,” Hurd said. “When you talk now, where we are at, 3.8 percent unemployment, that means, whether you’re an agriculture or artificial intelligence, you need a good workforce. You have multiple quarters of over 4 percent growth, 4 percent or more growth. You have wages rising for the first time.”
Hurd says he doesn’t see eye to eye with President Donald Trump when it comes to border issues.
“Building a wall from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security,” he said. “It’s 2018, we don’t have operational control over our border and we should. The way we do that is look at all 2,000 miles of border at the same time. The only way you can do that is with technology and manpower. That’s why I have the only bipartisan bill in Congress that deals with border security. And by the way, it also deals with DACA and Dreamers.”
Former Air Force intelligence officer, Gina Ortiz Jones is a newcomer to politics.
“I went to John Jay High School, Pease Middle School, Adams Hill Elementary. So, I am very much a product of heritage. I live, what not even half a mile from the ‘Duck Pond,’” Jones said.
We caught up with the Westside native while she visited other veterans. She says she wants veterans well cared for.
“As a veteran, I want to be a good voice for veterans,” she said. “There’s few that know the human cost of war. I think some of the problems that we’re seeing in Congress now is reflective of the fact that we have such a low level of representation of veterans in Congress, you know, willing to ask the tough questions.”
Jones says she’ll commit her work to improving the economy, national security and healthcare.
“It falls under three categories really; People either can’t afford it today, they’re fearful they won’t be able to afford it tomorrow or they physically cannot get to it,” she said. “I mean, this is a district that is 70 percent rural. So, you can imagine some of the challenges for our communities that live in rural areas that are medically underserved. And then look, if they don’t have insurance, they don’t have enough insurance to cover the services.”
When asked about their opponent, both candidates had strong words for each other.
“You know, my opponent has been there for almost four years,” Jones said. “The fact that he has nothing to run on and wants to run on attacking me suggests that. Again, he hasn’t done a lot and doesn’t want to talk about his record.”
“Here’s what happens, you have an unknown candidate, who just moved back into the district, is super out of touch with the district, and was told to attack, attack, attack,” Hurd said.
Expect the race to continue to heat up through Election Day, as the two candidates try to win over every last voter in this vast and competitive district.