Christian K. Lee/The New York Times

Wesley Hunt, a Cornell alumnus who also attended West Point and served in the military, is a Republican running to represent Texas's 38th Congressional district.

October 3, 2022

Cornell Alumnus Wesley Hunt Campaigns for Upcoming Texas Congressional Election

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A West Point graduate, former military captain and Cornell graduate with 3 master’s degrees, Wesley Hunt MPA ’15, MBA ’15, MILR ’16 appears to be one of the forerunners of a new wave of Republican politicians.

Hunt is running for Congress this November for Texas’s 38th district, one of two new congressional districts added following the results of the 2020 census. With a solid Republican rating from the Politico Forecast 2022 and a Trump endorsement, Hunt is on track to become Texas’ 38th district’s first representative and the third Black Republican serving in the 118th Congress House of Representatives, following Burgess Owens (R-Utah) and Byron Donalds (R-Fla.). 

After graduating from West Point, Hunt spent 8 years in the Army. He flew 55 combat missions in Iraq, later spending two years in Saudi Arabia as a diplomatic officer. He said that his time in the military shaped his political views and fostered his appreciation for living in the U.S. 

“You learn about working with people from all walks of life all over the world, and you gain a serious appreciation for how good we have it in this country as well,” Hunt said. “It’s really cool to be around a bunch of people that have that same idea, and those same motivations that really believe in this country and are willing to die for it. …I’ve taken that attitude and I want to take that attitude to the halls of Congress as well.”

After completing military service, Hunt spent four years in Ithaca while attending Cornell University, obtaining an MBA, Masters of Public Policy and Master of Industrial and Labor Relations. At Cornell, Hunt formed connections with classmates from around the world and learned how to have productive, intellectual conversations about political issues.

“I was talking to people from different backgrounds. We really had good intellectual banter and went back and forth,” Hunt said. ”But we’re at a time where everyone’s yelling at each other all the time, and just going back to Cornell and having real, thoughtful conversations is something that I think we need to get back to.”

Hunt grew up in a household with predominantly conservative beliefs, with his father also serving in the military and his sister also attending West Point. As a conservative, Hunt said that it was challenging to attend an institution with a lot of left-leaning students.

“I’ve had to defend my views, but, being in Ithaca for four years, I got really good at defending myself. And it actually made me a pretty good politician,” Hunt said. “I really owe Cornell for that.”

Hunt’s campaign centers around building the border wall, protecting the Second Amendment, being pro-life and standing with Israel. But his main focus going into the election is energy, as his district is home to the energy corridor — a major focal point for the energy industry in Texas, where multiple oil and gas companies are headquartered. 

“I think we all want to reduce our carbon footprint, I think we all want to be cleaner, I think we all want to be better,” Hunt said. “But you are literally not going to get to the next affordable and abundant energy source without natural gas, oil and everything else. It’s just impossible.”

According to OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan independent organization that uses data from the Federal Election Commission to track campaign finances, Hunt received $482,700 from individuals affiliated with oil and gas industry companies Enterprise Products Partner and Walter Oil & Gas, among others, for his first Congressional race in 2020. 

In addition, Hunt is working to attract more diverse groups to the Republican party.

“Every Hispanic person doesn’t vote Democrat. Every Black person doesn’t vote Democrat,” Hunt said. “Everybody has what their top issues are, and they tend to support what’s most important to them.”

Hunt attributed the general shift in Texans’ political opinions to the crisis at the southern border of the U.S.

“What we’re seeing at the border right now is a complete and utter disaster. People are actually fearing for their livelihood and fearing for their safety,” Hunt said. “This is an American thing, and what we are discovering is that there’s a way to get in this country and you need to do it the right way.”

His remarks come after another Texas representative, Mayra Flores (R-TX), won a special election earlier this year in a seat held by Democrats since its creation in 2010. 

“I love seeing not just Mayra but Cassie Garcia and Monica Dela Cruz. Those are all border districts. They’re all Hispanic women, and they’re all Republican and they’re all doing very well,” Hunt said.