Our exploration of straight-ticket voting trends in competitive or potentially competitive districts turns at long last to CD23, the state’s lone competitive congressional district and one of only a handful of swing districts nationally. CD23 sprawls across 29 counties in two time zones from El Paso to San Antonio, including some of the reddest and bluest portions of the state.

CD23 has sent a different representative to Congress each of the last four election cycles, two Republicans and two Democrats. Only former U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-San Antonio) has won a re-election race – just one – since former U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-San Antonio) won his final term in 2004.

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd

U.S. Rep.
Will Hurd

Pete Gallego


This year is a rematch of 2014, when now-U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) defeated then-U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine), 49.8%-47.7%, thanks to a 9,300-vote margin in Bexar Co. Gallego won the rest of the district by 6,900 votes, although Hurd won half of the other counties. Libertarian Ruben Corvalan, a San Antonio electrical engineer, received 3% of the vote and is on the ballot again this year.

The partisan leanings of the district depend on whether it is a presidential or a gubernatorial election year. This in part explains why the seat flipped from Republicans to Democrats and back again twice in the last decade. It was held by the conservative Bonilla for seven terms, largely because of margins built in Bexar Co. Redistricting in 2003 removed heavily Democratic Webb Co. from the district, along with Bonilla’s formidable 2002 challenger, and added some friendlier Hill Country counties. Bonilla won re-election easily. The district was adjusted by the courts in 2006, replacing those Hill Country counties with more Democrat-friendly South and West Texas counties, increasing the Hispanic/Latino share of the voting-age population, which today is nearly two thirds of the voting-age population of CD23.

Bonilla nearly won an 8-way special election outright over six Democrats and one independent, but he lost a December runoff election to Rodriguez, who was re-elected in the Democratic boom year of 2008. The seat returned to Republican hands for one term in the Democratic bust year of 2010. After Gallego’s one term, the seat is once again held by a Republican.

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