Typically when a mid-career politician says he’s not seeking reelection, it means he’s looking at a run for higher office or is involved in a scandal. U.S. Representative Robert Hurt laughs when asked which prompted his decision to not run for a fourth term.
“I was first elected in 2000,” the Republican legislator says in a phone interview from Washington. “I was 30 years old. I never envisioned doing that as a career.”
He says leaving Congress is something he and his wife Kathy have been talking about for months. “Every year you serve, it’s more difficult to make a decision not to run,” he says.
And at age 46, “my desire is to look for other ways to serve,” he says.
Hurt’s first elected office was the Chatham Town Council. In 2002, he went to Richmond to the House of Delegates and in 2008, to the Senate. In 2010 he challenged incumbent Democrat Tom Perriello for the 5th District seat and won.
Gridlock in Washington is “frustrating,” he says, but was not the reason he decided not to run. “I hope with the new leadership, we’ll see more progress on that front with Paul Ryan,” he says.
On January 6, Hurt voted for the 60th or so time to repeal the Affordable Care Act. As for legislation not destined to be vetoed, he says, “I’ve always put forward legislation with bipartisan co-sponsors with a focus to create jobs.”
He cites the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act that he introduced last year, co-sponsored by Democratic senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, which has not made it out of committee.
Hurt serves on the House Financial Services Committee and says he’s looking for ways to make it easier for businesses to get capital and turn it into jobs, which is particularly an issue in economically hard hit Southside.
Since Hurt announced he was not seeking reelection, three Republicans—state Senator Tom Garrett, Bedford developer Jim McKelvey and conservative think-tanker Michael Del Rosso have tossed their caps into the ring. Hurt says he’s not endorsing anyone.
And while he says the future is an open book, he’s pretty sure it will include practicing law in Chatham.