Will Hurd is a big guy.
The Class of 1999 Aggie ring on his right hand feels like a golf ball, and his 6'4" frame looks even more imposing from the bottom of a flight of stairs at the Clayton W. Williams Alumni Center on Texas A&M University's campus. The freshman U.S. congressman representing Texas' 23rd district is friendlier than his size and straight-laced CIA demeanor suggests. The 37-year-old San Antonio native thought back at his whirlwind 16 weeks in Congress and explained his plan for the future.
He said it is his expertise in cyber security work for the CIA and his longstanding relationship to his home in San Antonio, not his size, that will help him do his job better than his predecessor and recently announced 2016 challenger Pete Gallego. He said he welcomes the challenge.
"In my 16 weeks I've provided more services to this district than they've gotten in a decade," Hurd said. "My focus is on doing my job, representing all 29 counties, not just the big ones, not just the ones that voted for me, but for all of them. And if I can continue to do that for a year and a half, a year and three quarters, whatever it is, the folks are going to make their decision and I'll feel good about the decision they'll make."
A cyber security bill carrying three of his amendments was his biggest concern before heading back to Washington, D.C., after being Muster speaker on the A&M campus on Tuesday. The bill, called the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act, ultimately passed and will help private companies fight cyber attacks.
"This is going to create the right kind of framework to ensure robust sharing of information between the private sector and the federal government," Hurd said. "The federal government should be sharing as much information as it possibly can to help the private sector protect itself."
His focus on national security carries over into state issues that directly impact his district. Parts of his district in southwest Texas sit on the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale. The oil and gas industry took a financial hit with a dip in prices and even resulted in job losses, but he said it is important to place trust in the industry to bounce back.
"We should continue looking forward," Hurd said. "I look at this as a tool of policy as well. If we're selling energy to western Europe, South Korea, Japan, guess who's not? The Russians, the Iranians, the Saudis. "This is all good for us to keep the money and keep the jobs here in the United States."
While Hurd carried out his work last week in Washington, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry garnered more media attention leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Hurd commended the pair for their work in helping him defeat Gallego last year and said their presence in the upcoming election cycle will be good for the state.
"I consider Ted Cruz to be incredibly smart," Hurd said. "He's the kind of guy that does what he says he's going to do. He was very helpful to me in my campaign and so was Gov. Perry. Gov. Perry is a good Aggie and I've known him for a really long time and he was critical in helping me get elected.
"It's going to be exciting to see a number of Texans at the forefront of this upcoming election."
Whether it is a Yemen-bound airplane passenger noticing his Aggie ring, rubbing elbows with five other Aggie representatives or returning to College Station to speak at Muster 15 years after he guided the campus through the Bonfire collapse, his A&M ties follow him. Time on campus allowed him to break the ice during his Muster speech at a packed Reed Arena with some laughter and reflect on what is important to him. The big guy showed he had a big heart.
"This is a day for remembrance," Hurd said. "To stop and recommit to living our lives to the fullest."