One of the few congressmen with substantial expertise on cybersecurity is at risk of losing his House seat, as both candidates sprint to the finish line in an increasingly close race.
Republican Rep. Will Hurd, who serves as the chairman for the Subcommittee on Information Technology, a somewhat rare feat for a first-term lawmaker, is battling to retain his seat in the 23rd Congressional District in Texas. Hurd is pitted against Democrat Pete Gallego for a second time after he originally beat him in 2014 by a slim 2.1 point margin, according to Real Clear Politics.
Hurd’s campaign has been focusing on calling out Gallego for being a lobbyist and connecting this sort of work to his party’s presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Republican officials in the state filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission Friday, which formally accused Gallego of working as a lobbyist in the years he wasn’t serving as a legislator. Some outlets challenge the accuracy of these claims.
Hurd is relatively unique, compared to other more archetypal politicians. He is one of only four computer science majors currently serving in Congress.
Hurd worked for the CIA nine years and completed a full tour of duty in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India as an operations officer. In Pakistan, he worked undercover and mastered Urdu, the national language. Soon after his return to the U.S., Hurd became a senior advisor and partner to the cybersecurity firm Fusion X.
After being elected in 2014, he became one of just seven African-Americans to represent the GOP in the House of Representatives since the 1930s.
What makes him really stand out from the rest of the political crowd is his knowledge and appreciation for computer science and technology in general — a nascent area of policy that most lawmakers objectively know little about.
Hurd wrote an opinion piece for the Express-News explaining how computer science should be a top priority for American education, especially since technology and cybersecurity are pervading every facet of society. (RELATED: Internet Crashes Will Be Hard To Stop After Obama’s Internet Giveaway)
“I see the growing need for a workforce with strong coding and analytical skills. And as the elected representative of an economically disadvantaged region, I want parents and students to be aware of the benefits that computing jobs provide,” Hurd said.
Hurd and Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California, wrote a letter to their colleagues in May asking that they update their passwords and employ two-factor authentication, which uses other personal credentials to add extra layers to log-in security.
“Encrypting your voice and text data will go a long way [toward] mitigating the various risks we have identified,” Hurd and Lieu also recommended, according to The Daily Dot.
Hurd’s race with Gallego is not only important for party majorities in the House, but also for cybersecurity awareness and expertise in policy-making processes. A defeat for Hurd would mean that Congress loses a voice in a field that is sparsely represented, but certainly important.
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