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Incumbent Gonzales, challenger Herrera to face off in GOP primary runoff for Congress

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Incumbent Tony Gonzales (R) and Brandon Herrera (R) are running in the Republican primary runoff in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District on May 28, 2024. Gonzales and Herrera were the top two finishers in the five-candidate primary on March 5, 2024, receiving 45.4% and 24.2% of the vote, respectively. The two advanced to a runoff because neither received more than 50% of the vote.

The Republican Party of Texas censured Gonzales in March, saying his votes in support of same-sex marriage and additional firearms restrictions violated the party’s principles. The resolution also said Gonzales’ lack of support for a bill that would have placed additional limits on individuals in the country without legal permission violated party principles. Gonzales was the first Republican officeholder Texas Republicans censured since then-Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R) ahead of the 2018 legislative primaries. The National Republican Congressional Committee said it would continue to support Gonzales.

In a statement following Gonzales’ censure, the Gonzales campaign said he was focused on policymaking over politics: “Today, like every day, Congressman Tony Gonzales went to work on behalf of the people of TX-23…The Republican Party of Texas would be wise to follow his lead and do some actual work.” In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Gonzales said, “The reality is I’ve taken almost 1,400 votes, and the bulk of those have been with the Republican Party.”

Gonzales, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, was first elected in 2020 and says he has a record of delivering for the district and would continue to do so if re-elected, mentioning border security as a priority. Gonzales says Herrera is “the biggest fraud running for Congress in America,” referring to Herrera’s background as a North Carolina native and to statements Herrera made that Gonzales says are critical of former President Donald Trump (R).

Herrera is a firearms manufacturer and host of a YouTube channel focused on firearms-related content. Herrera says he is running because Gonzales had not lived up to his supporters’ values during his time in office. Herrera says the district’s voters are “done with Tony Gonzales and his betrayal of our shared conservative values,” referring to Gonzales’ votes on border security, vaccine requirements, and firearms regulations.

As of March 26, 2024, Gonzales had raised $2,897,677 and Herrera had raised $827,868 (including $50,000 in self-funding).

As of March 26, 2024, The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball each rated the general election Solid/Safe Republican. Gonzales was re-elected in 2022 56%-39%. In the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) had 53% of the district vote to Joe Biden’s (D) 46%.

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