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Gonzales forced into runoff in Texas GOP primary

Second-term Republican faced challengers after supporting post-Uvalde gun bill

Texas Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales faced challengers for supporting a bipartisan gun violence measure crafted in reaction to a mass shooting at an elementary school in his district.
Texas Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales faced challengers for supporting a bipartisan gun violence measure crafted in reaction to a mass shooting at an elementary school in his district. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales, who angered Second Amendment activists by supporting a bipartisan gun violence measure after a mass shooting at a school in Uvalde in 2022, will need to win a runoff in May to get the nomination to a third term.

Gonzales had 46 percent of the vote to YouTube personality Brandon Herrera’s 23 percent in the five-candidate GOP field when The Associated Press called the race at 12:17 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday, with an estimated 90 percent of the vote counted.

Texas law requires primary candidates to get more than 50 percent of the vote to secure the nomination outright. Otherwise, the top two finishers face each other in a May 28 runoff.

Herrera, whose campaign website touts his “lifelong passion for firearms,” entered the primary’s final weeks with the most money in the bank of any of the would-be challengers.

Gonzales identifies as an across-the-board conservative, but he could be seen as a moderate simply because he showed a willingness to work for bipartisan support. He co-chairs a bipartisan group of military veteran lawmakers, the For Country Caucus, and is a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

The 23rd District runs from suburban San Antonio south and west to outside El Paso, including the border with Mexico. It includes Uvalde, the site of a mass school shooting in 2022. In the aftermath, Gonzales was one of 14 House Republicans who supported a bipartisan measure to expand background checks and fund school security and mental health programs. That vote helped fuel criticism from conservatives.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the November race for the 23rd District seat as Solid Republican. Donald Trump beat Joe Biden by 7 percentage points in 2020.

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