The race for Texas’ most competitive congressional district is drawing two more Democrats.

Jay Hulings, a former federal prosecutor from San Antonio, said Sunday he could no wait no longer to launch a challenge to U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas). Hulings is an ally of the Castro brothers – U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas), and former U.S. Housing Secretary Julián Castro.

“Washington is so broken and Congress is so broken,” Hulings said in an interview with The Texas Tribune. “There are times when you can sit on the sidelines. This not one of them. I decided I have to get in the fight.”

Hulings is moving quickly to establish himself as a top-tier candidate in what’s expected to be a crowded primary field. His last day at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas was this last week. He’s working with the Castros’ political team, and he is expected to soon begin rolling out endorsement from prominent Democratic officials.

Hulings’ entrance into the race was first reported by the San Antonio Express-News.

On Friday, Hurd got another Democratic challenger: Rick Treviño, a teacher from San Antonio who ran for its City Council earlier this year and narrowly missed a runoff. He had the backing of Our Revolution, the group aligned with former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Hulings and Treviño join Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer, in vying for a shot at Hurd in 2018. A number of other Democrats are still looking at the race, including former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, the Alpine Democrat who represented the district from 2013-2015.

The decisions by Hulings and Treviño to enter the race come days after a federal court redistricting ruling that left Hurd’s 23rd District untouched while invalidating two other districts.

Hurd’s campaign responded Sunday to the two new challengers by raising the possibility of a bruising Democratic primary that hurts the party’s overall chances of reclaiming the 23rd District.

“The Democratic Party hired the former assistant to [U.S. Rep.] Debbie Wasserman Schultz to influence the primary process in Texas 23,” Hurd campaign manager Justin Hollis said in a statement, apparently referring to Amy Kroll, a Texas Democratic Party staffer who previously worked for Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat and former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. “She’s clearly not doing her job. I’m sure the national Democrats are furious.”

Manny Garcia, the deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, said the only role it and the national party have in primaries is administering them. Kroll’s job, Garcia added, is to talk to Hurd’s constituents and hear their concerns – “just like Hurd isn’t.”


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Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

Patrick Svitek is the primary political correspondent for The Texas Tribune and editor of The Blast, the Tribune's subscription-only daily newsletter for political insiders.