Second Amendment Stalwart Headed to Runoff in TX-23

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

We highlighted the GOP primary in TX-23 on Tuesday as one of the most interesting races to watch on Super Tuesday, and it did indeed produce a major upset. Incumbent Rep. Tony Gonzales is could still win the nomination, but after failing to reach the 50 percent threshold in the primary he's now heading for a runoff against Brandon "The AK Guy" Herrera, who came in a solid second in the five-candidate field. 


Gonzales himself has been silent on X since the returns came in on Tuesday night, but he did release a statement after it became clear he wasn't going to win the nomination outright. 

 I am truly grateful for all those who continue to show trust in me. Tonight we won all 29 counties in the 23rd district of Texas. Next we’ll do it again, only with a larger margin. Representing a district larger than 30 states is as tough as it gets. Texas-23 and I have much in common as we’ve been abandoned to fend for ourselves. Fighting against the odds is nothing new. My entire life has been a struggle. Spending time as a kid in the San Antonio battered women’s shelter with my mother, to living on my own at fificen years old, to joining the Navy not knowing how to swim, to multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, to earning the rank of Master Chief, to showing up when chaos has struck our district I have always been a fighter. My fight will always continue. Never back down, never surrender. The people of TX-23 deserve someone who will run to the fire when things get tough. That is what I have done and it is what I will continue to do to ensure the border is secure, our veterans are taken care of, law enforcement has the support they need, and working families have the opportunity to get ahead.


It's true that Gonzales won every county in TX-23, but he cleared 50 percent in just 7 of the 29 counties in the district. Overall, Gonzales managed to capture 45 percent of the primary vote, well ahead of Hererra's 24.7 percent, but the results show that there's clearly an appetite for change in the district, which spans a huge swath of the southwest portion of the state.

One of the biggest knocks on Gonzales was his vote in favor of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was passed by Congress in the wake of the murders at Robb Elementary in Uvalde. On Tuesday, Gonzales couldn't even win a majority of votes in Uvalde County, though he did come in first with 42 percent of the vote compared to Herrera's 22 percent. 

Gonzales had the benefit of incumbency as well as a war chest of nearly $3 million compared to Hererra, who raised almost $1 million his challenge, but that wasn't enough to convince a majority of voters to send him back to Washington, D.C. In his statement on Tuesday night Gonzales talked about "fighting against the odds", and I'd say he's definitely facing an uphill battle in the runoff. The 55 percent of primary voters who chose another candidate had their reasons for doing so, and it's going to be a challenge to convince enough of them to back Gonzales in the runoff for him to add substantially to his vote total.


At this point, I'd say that Herrera is now the frontrunner in the runoff, which will take place on May 28th. I expect the race will be tight, and Gonzales will likely be getting an influx of cash from his establishment backers, but now that Herrera has assured himself of a place in the runoff I suspect the 2A community will be sending donations his way as well. Herrera's run a strong campaign to date, and 2A activists across the country have the chance to send one of their own to Capitol Hill by supporting him in the months ahead. 

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