GOP's Neo-Fascist Wing Targets Mainstream Conservative Tony Gonzales-- McCarthy Hiding Under The Bed
Tony Gonzales represents a swing district along the Mexican border. Although the latest Texas gerrymander gave it an R+13 partisan lean (from R+5), it’s still one of Texas’ only competitive districts. And on many issues, Gonzales hasn’t gone along with GOP extremism. Remember when we reported on how some of those extremists are trying to dump mainstream conservative Brian Fitzpatrick and swap him out for MAGAt Mark Houck.
Houck probably can’t beat Fitzpatrick even in a GOP primary, but he definitely can’t win a general election in that moderate, swing district. Gonzales isn’t as secure in his seat as Fitzpatrick is in his. So, yesterday, when Mica Soellner reported for Punchbowl that the “Freedom” Caucus fascists are plotting against Gonzales, everyone— at least in DC— paid attention. Right now 4 Republicans, all to Gonzales’ right, have jumped into the primary. And the Democrat in the race is… a guy who makes TikTok videos, Lee Bausinger.
Soellner’s scoop started with "Freedom" Caucus chieftain Scott Perry (R-PA) meeting with MAGAt Victor Avila at the Capitol in May. Two month later, another far right extremist in the Caucus, Troy Nehls (R-TX) “hosted a screening of a border documentary, which Avila appeared in. Avila also spoke at the event.” Another right-wing challenger, Brandon Herrera, spoke with fellow MAGAt Matt Gaetz by phone shortly after he launched his campaign this month to discuss his bid against Gonzales. Gaetz also had Herrera on a Newsmax show he hosted last week. I can just imagine Gaetz squealing like a stuck pig if mainstream conservatives ran a primary candidate against him! Herrera told Soellner he is also hoping to meet with Nehls and another Texas extremist, Chip Roy.
Gaetz called the race “America’s most exciting congressional Republican primary election,” and accused Gonzales of attacking his conservative colleagues.
Herrera defended the involvement of lawmakers in primaries. He accused Gonzales of going against his campaign promises to fight for a conservative agenda.
“They’re getting a chance to choose their co-workers which is really important to get things done,” Herrera told us.
Gonzales is facing at least three primary challengers. In addition to Herrera and Avila, Medina County GOP Chair Julie Clark has launched a race to try to beat Gonzales.
Clark initiated statewide censure efforts against Gonzales earlier this year. We previously reported that Clark met with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and the HFC-aligned outside conservative group FreedomWorks in April.
It’s also worth noting that Avila had preexisting ties to the Freedom Caucus, particularly with Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA). The two had connections to the conservative nonprofit the America Project.
“From San Antonio to El Paso, grassroots leaders have embraced Victor as a true son of the district whom they can trust to fight for everyone, not just wealthy donors,” said Brandon Wear, Avila’s campaign manager.
So far, the challengers have posed little threat to Gonzales, who has brought in $1.7 million for his reelection. That astonishing figure makes him Texas’s top fundraiser for candidates running for the House of Representatives, according to the San Antonio Express.
Gonzales’ campaign pointed out his fundraising numbers, adding that he had traveled “thousands of miles” in his district this year, and has received more than 130 local endorsements.
Jack Pandol, spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told us in a statement that the campaign arm encourages sitting Republicans to focus on taking out Democrats, rather than members of their own party.
“The NRCC is focused on beating Democrats and we believe all Republicans should focus their time and energy on that mission. However, the Committee is a member-driven organization and we will not shy away from protecting our incumbents from primary challenges if necessary,” Pandol told us.
Gonzales was in the Navy for decade before running for the open seat Will Hurd abandoned in 2020. In the primary he was endorsed by Hurd and narrowly beat Paul Reyes, who ws endorsed by Ted Cruz, in a runoff recount— 12,346 to 12,339… 7 votes!
Gonzales had an easier time in the general, beating GOP-lite Democratic frequent candidate Gina Ortiz Jones 50.6% to 46.6% And then last year, after he was one of just 35 Republicans who voted to establish the J-6 commission, another right winger challenged him… and Gonzales won with 78%, taking all 29 counties.