In an election environment that looks pretty good for Texas Republicans, Democrats are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to blunt a red wave; including apparently doctoring a photo of a sitting GOP congresswoman to make her look angry while holding a gun.
Fox News was the first to report on the campaign mailer from Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who’s facing Rep. Mayra Flores in the 34th Congressional District. Flores was the winner of a special election in the district just a few months ago, but Gonzalez, who currently represents the 15th CD, is running against the sitting congresswoman thanks to redistricting. Gonzalez narrowly won his race two years ago, but the newly redrawn borders of the 34th District are much more Democratic-friendly, with the Cook Political Voting Index giving the district a D+9 advantage.
Gonzalez certainly isn’t running like he’s assured of victory. Instead he’s gone low throughout the course of the campaign, including shoveling cash at a blogger who has launched personal attacks against Flores like calling her “Miss Frijoles“. Now the Gonzalez campaign itself is being questioned after a bizarre campaign ad surfaced on social media showing Flores holding a gun with her eyebrows edited to make her look angry and aggressive.
The ad, which was amplified on social media from Gonzalez’s campaign, targeted Flores for her vote against the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and featured an edited photo of Flores holding a firearm.
The photo used in the ad, which was originally shared to Flores’ Instagram account in January, appears to have been edited to give Flores’ eyebrows a more aggressive look.
“Republican Mayra Flores’ first vote in Congress was against the Bipartisan Safe Communities Act,” the ad’s narrator stated as the edited image of Flores flashed on the screen. “She voted against keeping our children safe in schools, against keeping weapons out of the hands of Mexican cartels, and against keeping guns out of the hands of criminals with a prior history of domestic violence.”
Gonzalez, who currently represents the state’s 15th Congressional District in the House, promoted the doctored photo through his campaign’s Twitter account, writing: “After the tragic shooting at Uvalde, Mayra Flores’ first vote in Congress was AGAINST a bipartisan school safety bill. We need a representative that works to protect our children and families; not someone who puts them in danger.”
At the time, Gonzalez made no mention that the photo of Flores used in his campaign’s ad was edited.
Why would he? Clearly the intent was to make Flores look as menacing as possible, and if he’d copped to doctoring the photo that would have defeated the purpose of the deceptive editing.
Gonzalez, by the way, has cast his own vote against a gun control bill this year, though he supported the gun bill that was ultimately signed by Joe Biden. In fact, Gonzalez actually issued a press release touting his “nay” vote on the House bill to ban so-called assault weapons; though he used that as a springboard to call for additional (and unconstitutional) restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.
“It is critical that we act to reduce gun violence to keep our families safe. That’s why I strongly support expanded background checks, waiting periods, red flag laws and a ban on high-capacity magazines that allow for the massacres we’ve seen in Uvalde, El Paso and Buffalo. But there are tens of millions of assault rifles already in circulation across America, many of them are used by responsible gun owners for hunting in South Texas. And a ban on some of those models will do nothing to reduce overall risks. Our focus should be on keeping guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves or others.”
“The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was a critical first step. Now the Senate needs to stop sitting on its hands and take up House-passed legislation to ban high-capacity magazines, close the gun show loophole, and enhance background checks. Let’s send these bills to President Biden’s desk!”
I confess that I’m a little confused by Gonzalez’s position here. Bans on commonly-owned rifles are bad, but bans on commonly-owned ammunition magazines are good? How does that work? Gonzalez is correct that there are tens of millions of modern sporting rifles already in circulation, but there are hundreds of millions of magazines that can hold more than ten rounds in circulation as well. How does banning commonly-owned magazines keep guns “out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves or others”?
Given Gonzalez’s incoherent positions on gun issues, I guess I’m not surprised that he’s trying to scare voters away from voting for Flores by trying to make her look as scary as possible. As to his assertion that Flores wants to put children and families in danger, last month the congresswoman introduced the Reduce Gun Violence Act, which would provide billions of dollars to local schools for security upgrades. Flores says the measure would be fully funded by using “unobligated funds already appropriated and approved by Congress under the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’, specifically taxpayer funds earmarked for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax collection.”
Rather than debate the merits of the RGVA compared to the BSCA, Gonzalez has decided to try to scare the voters of TX-34 into picking him on Election Day. Those voters should reject both his fearmongering and his support for all kinds of unconstitutional gun laws when they cast their ballot, and send a representative to Washington who’ll protect their schools and their fundamental right to protect themselves and their families.