Photo Credit: Brandon Herrera’s campaign website; Leon Springs Fire Department
Representative Tony Gonzales (R) defeated Brandon Herrera in Republican Texas 23rd runoff primary election, May 28, 2024.

Representative Tony Gonzales has claimed victory in the Republican primary runoff election for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. The race was a narrow win against challenger Brandon Herrera, a YouTuber who aimed to make Gonzales’ voting record on gun issues a central focus of the campaign.

“The future of America remains as bright as ever. Thank you #TX23 for continuing to place your faith in me,” Gonzales stated on social media platforms.

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The result caps months of public feuding between the centrist Gonzales and the conservative wing of the Republican Party. This conflict played out openly in the lead-up to the election, despite calls from party leaders and rank-and-file members to keep such disputes behind closed doors.

The Republican Jewish Coalition on Wednesday morning celebrated Gonzales’ win, boasting, “If you stand against the Jewish community, if you stand against America’s strategic ally Israel, we will work to defeat you.”

“Republican primary voters in TX-23 backed Congressman Tony Gonzales and rejected goose-stepping extremist Brandon Herrera,” the RJC message continued. “We are proud and gratified to have played a significant role in helping Congressman Gonzales defeat his challenger and we look forward to continuing to work with him in Congress.”

In the March 5 Republican primary election, no candidate managed to secure the 50% vote threshold required to avoid a runoff. Representative Tony Gonzales led the field with 45% of the votes cast, while challenger Brandon Herrera garnered just under 25% of the vote total.

The Texas Tribune reported that “The conflict simmered under the surface through the past two years, with members generally maintaining cordial relationships in public. But all came spilling into the public in April when Gonzales called his right-wing colleagues ‘scumbags’ and compared them to the Klu Klux Klan for refusing to vote for billions of dollars in foreign aid to Ukraine.”

House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Vir) retorted, “It is not surprising that one of the most liberal RINOs in Congress, who has egregiously fought against real border security, and votes like a Democrat, would also resort to the Democrat playbook in screaming ‘racism’ against those exposing him. Thankfully, the good people of the Texas 23rd District have the opportunity to vote for change and an America First patriot, in Brandon Herrera.”

Herrera proved to be a formidable fundraiser, amassing over $827,000 ahead of the primary election and an additional $1.3 million leading up to the runoff through his official campaign committee. His donor base included a roster of prominent far-right conservative figures across Texas and beyond, such as supporters of Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida and former Texas state Senator Don Huffines.

However, Herrera’s fundraising efforts were dwarfed in comparison to Tony Gonzales’ operation, which was backed by several business interests active in West Texas as well as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and RJC. Gonzales raised a $4.5 million war chest ahead of the runoff, with a third of that sum raised in April alone before the runoff election.

But despite his substantial fundraising efforts and influential supporters, Gonzales’ margin of victory was incredibly slim this time around. With all precincts reporting, he led by only around 400 votes – a difference that falls within the margin and allows Herrera to request a recount.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.