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Texas sending first black Republican to Congress

Texas is sending three new members to Congress, all Republican, all conservative, who are vastly different in age and background and — to the delight of party leaders — include the first African-American Republican elected from the Lone Star State.

Will Hurd of San Antonio is a 37-year-old former CIA undercover operative who won the only close race for the U.S. House of Representative in the entire state Tuesday.

He narrowly defeated Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, 49.78 percent to 47.66 percent, in a district that is majority Hispanic and stretches 800 miles, from San Antonio to El Paso, along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Hurd had run and lost in the primary for the same seat in 2010. But the day before the election, Hurd boldly predicted he would win and expressed confidence that he would be a quick study in Congress.

“Nobody in the 435 members of the House has my background in national security,” he said in an interview with McClatchy.

Hurd was a CIA agent in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and stateside in D.C. and New York, working on security.

John Ratcliffe, 49, is from a district east of Dallas. He has known he was going to be the congressman since May when he beat the longtime incumbent, 91-year-old Rep. Ralph Hall, in the primary runoff.

Bruce Baben (rhymes with cabin), 66, is a dentist who was semi-retired when the southeastern Texas seat suddenly opened up with the decision by Rep. Steve Stockman to run for the Senate. Stockman lost in the Republican primary.

“I thought I was retiring,” the Woodville dentist and Air Force and Army veteran said in an interview. “Little did I know what was in store for me. I was going to fade off into retirement sunset.”

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