Rep. Tony Gonzales Warns GOP Colleagues Over Support for Primary Challenger


Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) warns of potential consequences for some GOP colleagues in the House who are campaigning against his reelection bid.

As Gonzales seeks a third term representing Texas’s 23rd Congressional District, he’s challenged from the right over his votes to protect same-sex marriage and implement stricter gun safety measures. These votes drew a crowded field of candidates during the March primary, leading to a runoff with challenger Brandon Herrera after neither candidate secured more than 50% of the vote.

The runoff has drawn national attention, with many of Gonzales’s House colleagues endorsing Herrera. Gonzales has warned that this move will not go unnoticed.

“Here’s the deal: If somebody backs your opponent and goes to your district and does events [and] are giving your opponent money — they are trying to kill you politically. And you better believe them,” Gonzales told the Truth Voices in an interview. “So your only option is to kill them politically. So I think there’s focus on Tuesday, and then we’re going to do a little purging of ourselves of our own.”

The runoff will feature Gonzales against Herrera, a gun rights activist challenging the incumbent after he voted in favor of stricter gun safety laws in 2022 following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which is in Gonzales’s district.

The shooting left 19 children and two teachers dead, reigniting national discussions about gun control.

Herrera decided to challenge Gonzales, telling gun rights activists at an event earlier this year that “if you vote against our interests, if you vote against gun rights, if you vote against the Constitution … we will challenge you, we will primary you and we will win. We will take your f***ing job.”

The Truth Voices reached out to Herrera’s campaign for this story.

Gonzales remains unconcerned about the challenge, citing the state’s primary where he received 45% of the vote compared to Herrera’s 25%.

“I’m gonna dust this guy, no doubt in my mind,” Gonzales said. “And honestly, I’ve gotten a whole lot stronger for it, too. So I don’t worry about what some of my colleagues up here are doing or not doing.”

It’s unclear what political retribution Gonzales might pursue against his colleagues if he is reelected. However, he noted that he has successfully “purged” at least three GOP county chairs in Texas who were “anti-Tony,” specifically in Bexar and Medina counties.

“They have been replaced with pro-Tony GOP county chairs that will take place the first week of June,” Gonzales said. “I don’t go around poking people in the chest. But if you poke me in the chest, you’re gonna get both barrels.”

Supporters of Herrera appear undeterred by Gonzales’s threat.

“Tony Gonzales was sanctioned by the Texas Republican Party for being a sellout liberal,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who has campaigned actively with Herrera, told the Truth Voices. “If he’s picking fights with conservatives who oppose him, he will be very busy.”

Other House Republicans backing Herrera include Reps. Bob Good (R-VA), Ralph Norman (R-SC), and Eli Crane (R-AZ). Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO) is considering it.

Gonzales has also secured high-profile endorsements, including from state officials such as Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. He has the backing of celebrities like actor Matthew McConaughey from his district.

The intraparty tension persists even as House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) urges party members not to involve themselves in GOP primaries, promoting unity ahead of the 2024 election. However, some hard-line conservatives continue endorsing far-right candidates over more moderate GOP colleagues.

For example, Adam Morgan, a South Carolina state representative, is challenging Rep. William Timmons (R-SC). At least seven Freedom Caucus members have endorsed Morgan.

Meanwhile, centrist Republicans challenge hard-right colleagues, including Good, who faces a primary challenge from John McGuire, supported by several Republicans on the campaign trail.

Cami Mondeaux
Cami Mondeaux
Congressional Reporter. A Utah native, Cami graduated from Westminster College in Salt Lake City in 2021 and covered state government as a breaking news reporter for KSL News Radio.

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