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Primary Challenger Gains Conservative Support as Gonzales Spends $786,000 on Ads

Representative Tony Gonzales (Credits: Fox News)

In the highly contested Texas 23rd Congressional District runoff election, incumbent Representative Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) has launched a television advertising campaign, with an initial focus on veterans’ issues.

This move comes as conservatives to his right, including social media influencer Brandon Herrera, challenge his reelection bid. Gonzales, a moderate Republican, has faced criticism from hard-right GOP members after publicly criticizing them on national television.

On Tuesday, Gonzales revealed his campaign’s first ad, which features veterans praising his support and attacking Herrera’s previous remarks about service member suicides. The 30-second ad showcases veterans sharing their personal experiences and criticizing Herrera’s comments on the “Unsubscribe” podcast, where he made light of veteran suicide.

Representative Tony Gonzales (Credits: ABC News – The Walt Disney Company)

The ad concludes with a veteran stating, “If Brandon Herrera won’t support veterans, he has no business representing us in Congress. Tony Gonzales is a veteran, and he stood up for us in the Middle East; now he’s standing up against Joe Biden here on the border. That’s why veterans stand with Tony Gonzales.”

Gonzales announced the $786,000 TV buy during a press conference, where he emphasized his commitment to veterans’ issues and his experience as a two-decade-plus veteran. He also highlighted the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border as a major issue in the race, citing his efforts to bring attention to the issue and his support from the Border Patrol Council.

Herrera quickly responded, accusing Gonzales of taking his comments out of context and claiming that his campaign has raised more money from veterans than the incumbent.

Herrera stated, “It’s honestly disgraceful to see you take one line purposefully out of context and use it to diminish all of the work me and my friends have done for the veteran community here. I guarantee we’ve raised more for veterans than you ever have, and that’s a promise. Shame on you.”

Representative Tony Gonzales (Credits: The Texas Tribune)

The runoff election, scheduled for May 28, has garnered attention due to the high-profile endorsements and the moderate vs. hard-right dynamics at play. Gonzales has faced criticism from hardliners, including Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Bob Good (R-Va.), whom he publicly criticized on CNN. In response, Gaetz and Good have endorsed Herrera, with Good slamming Gonzales’ voting record and labeling him a “liberal RINO.”

Despite the challenges, Gonzales enjoys a money advantage, with over $1.5 million cash-on-hand compared to Herrera’s $302,000. The incumbent has also received support from Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who held a fundraiser with Gonzales last week, raising $300,000.

As the runoff election approaches, the contest between Gonzales and Herrera will likely intensify, with veterans’ issues, border security, and the moderate vs. hard-right divide taking center stage.

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