SAN ANTONIO — He might get an earful from constituents about congressional gridlock, but freshman U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego is hitting the trail across his expansive South and West Texas district to meet with voters in a quest for re-election in November.

The traditional start to fall campaigning is Labor Day, but Gallego, D-Alpine, said he can't wait. He's taking advantage of this month's congressional recess to hit the road for an estimated 2,000-mile route, and early voting is just 11 weeks away.

“The truth is, in such a big district, if you wait until after Labor Day, there's not much time” to campaign, he said.

“If you represented Rhode Island, you could start after Labor Day,” he said Tuesday as he launched a 20-city tour beginning in San Antonio.

After stops in cities including Pearsall, Eagle Pass, Fort Stockton, Marfa and Sierra Blanca, Gallego's campaign sojourn will end in El Paso on Sept. 3. Congress returns from its late-summer break the following week.

Gallego, a former Texas House member, is trying to retain the District 23 seat he narrowly won two years ago, but he faces stiff opposition in the 29-county area from Republican nominee Will Hurd.

Hurd, of San Antonio, has been crisscrossing the district throughout the year, including during a vigorous GOP primary contest with the district's former congressman, Francisco “Quico” Canseco, R-San Antonio.

As the nominee, Hurd benefits from a long-running ad campaign by the National Republican Congressional Committee that attacks Gallego's allegiance to President Barack Obama on issues including health care and immigration reform.

The District 23 race, which also includes a Green Party candidate, is considered the only competitive congressional battle in Texas this year. While some pundits give the incumbent an edge over Hurd, Gallego prefers to ignore such predictions.

“I was taught years ago that you run unopposed, or you run scared. I'm running scared,” Gallego said.

He said he views the tour as a way to find out what's on constituents' minds.

“This district is 42 percent of the entire U.S.-Mexico border, so border security and immigration are going to be big topics of conversation,” along with infrastructure needs and job creation, he said.