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CORRESPONDENT

Trump Neutrality in Texas Primary Key to Rep. Gonzales' Narrow Victory

John Gizzi By Wednesday, 29 May 2024 09:03 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

​In results that went down to the wire early Wednesday morning, a nationally watched Republican run-off in Texas' 23rd District (San Antonio-West Texas) ended with establishment Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, barely staving off a MAGA-style opponent.

Gonzales survived a challenge from YouTuber Brandon Herrera, drawing 50.7% of the vote against a first-time candidate who slammed the incumbent for gun safety legislation and the Respect for Marriage Act (which codified the Supreme Court's ruling upholding same-sex marriage).

In what is increasingly becoming a major issue in contested GOP primaries, Herrera also denounced Gonzales' vote for aid to Ukraine. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who was pivotal to passage of the supplemental measure containing Ukraine assistance, strongly endorsed Gonzales and appeared at a fundraising event for the embattled incumbent.

Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, who freely backed numerous insurgent candidates for the state legislature against incumbents who opposed his school choice agenda, also backed Gonzales.

A strong supporter of Israel, Gonzales benefited from big independent expenditures on his behalf from the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) and the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Although incumbent House members genuinely back their colleagues in primaries, three Republican House members linked with the MAGA movement — Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.; Bob Good, R-Va.; and Eli Crane, R-Ariz. — all weighed in for Herrera against Gonzales.

As close as Herrera came, he lacked the endorsement of one Republican that almost surely would have put him ahead of Gonzales — Donald Trump.

Sources within the 23rd District told Newsmax there was an effort to reach out to the former president to get involved. Trump is not shy about plunging into contested primaries, and his blessing is considered a big factor in the nomination of Ohio GOP Sen.-nominee Bernie Moreno and the near-outright nomination in Georgia's 3rd District of former White House political director Brian Jack, who is now heavily favored to win the runoff June 18.

But Trump did not say a word about Herrera. Gov. Abbott and Speaker Johnson reportedly urged him to stay out of the race, as did others in Trump's inner circle who saw Herrera's history of free-wheeling comments about guns (he styles himself "the AK guy") and sometimes-irreverent sense of humor, making him vulnerable to the Democrat nominee in the fall.

But as controversial as he was, Herrera came within 400 votes of dislodging a two-term incumbent in his own primary. The spirited challenge of an outsider to a generally conservative congressman who cast a few serious votes that upset the more populist, MAGA-style conservatives is a clearly a sign of things to come in the Republican Party.

Mary Barnes, Newsmax intern who is studying at Southern Methodist University in Texas, assisted Gizzi on this report.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


John-Gizzi
​In results that went down to the wire early Wednesday morning, a nationally watched Republican run-off in Texas' 23rd District (San Antonio-West Texas) ended with establishment Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, barely staving off a MAGA-style opponent.
donald trump, tony gonzales, texas, gop, primary, runoff, election, nominee
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2024-03-29
Wednesday, 29 May 2024 09:03 AM
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