GOP Rep Tony Gonzales survives challenge from the right in Texas runoff

The Associated Press projects that Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas will win his Republican primary runoff election on Tuesday with far-right challenger Brandon Herrera.

Gonzales is running for a third two-year term representing a majority Hispanic district in southwestern Texas. 

With more than 800 miles of U.S.-Mexico border, Texas’s 23rd district has the largest stretch of the border territory of any Congressional district. The district is also home to Uvalde, Texas, where two years ago, 19 children and two adults were murdered in an elementary school shooting.

Gonzales, who has bucked his party on gun safety, immigration, and same-sex marriage, was challenged in the runoff by Herrera, a MAGA supporter and gun rights advocate who is known for his gun-themed YouTube channel titled “The AK Guy.”

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Gonzales was endorsed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Mike Johnson. Actor Matthew McConaughey, a Texas native, recorded robocalls in support of Gonzales.

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Herrera was backed by controversial Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Rep. Bob Good of Florida, another far-right House member and the chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Gonzales won over 45% of the vote in the March primary, with Herrera a distant second at 25%. However, since neither grabbed a majority of the vote, under Texas law, they both advanced to a one-on-one runoff.

Veteran Texas-based Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser noted that Herrera branded the showdown as “an establishment versus far-right, populist race,” and that Gonzales was well aware “that he needs to protect his right flank”

However, he added that “Tony has a pretty big presence in the conservative eco ecosystem. He’s on Fox News a lot, talking about the border.”

Outside groups shelled out over $5 million in ad spending in the race, according to AdImpact, a leading ad tracking firm.

Among the groups helping Gonzales were the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund, the Hispanic Leadership Alliance, and the American Action Network, which is aligned with the House GOP leadership.

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