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GOP Civil War Gets Nastier As Tony Gonzales Fights For His Political Life

GOP infighting is getting more serious as primary runoffs approach and Rep. Tony Gonzales is fighting for his “political life” against YouTuber Brandon Herrera.

Gonzales has been forced into a runoff against Herrera, known as “The AK Guy” with more than 3 million subscribers to his YouTube channel. This runoff has highlighted the differences between lines inside the GOP, with figures such as Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. House Speaker Mark Johnson supporting Gonzales and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) supporting Herrera.

In the primary, Gonzales received 45.1 percent of the vote to Herrera’s 24.6 percent. But as an incumbent, Gonzalez failed to win a majority, putting him in a difficult position in the runoff against Herrera.

“Tony’s in the fight for his political life,” Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin Republican strategist told the Austin American-Statesman. “Just being in the runoff is dangerous.”

Gonzales has been targeted by the hard right of his own party for his votes in support of gun control after the Uvalde massacre in 2020, same-sex marriage, and to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Gonzales has openly blasted the ones who oppose him. He recently called the far-right members of his own party “a bunch of scumbags” for killing a border security package.

“I serve with some real scumbags. Look, Matt Gaetz, he paid minors to have sex with him at drug parties,” Gonzales said on CNN. Gaetz was under federal investigation for sex trafficking, but prosecutors decided not to pursue the case. 

“Bob Good endorsed my opponent, a known neo-Nazi,” Gonzales continued. “These people used to walk around with white hoods at night; now they are walking around with white hoods in the daytime.” Herrera was found to have posted “videos replete with imagery, music and jokes about the Nazi regime and the Holocaust,” according to Jewish Insider.

However, Herrera has maintained that he is not a neo-Nazi and that he opposes the ideas of Hitler’s National Socialism.

Both Herrera and Gonzales have launched ads attacking each other in recent weeks in one of the most expensive congressional races in Texas history. According to Ad Impact, the entire primary and the runoff between Gonzales and Herrera has seen $5.3 million in ad spending, with Gonzales spending $4.3 million and Herrera spending $888,000.

Last month, Speaker Johnson appeared at a San Antonio fundraiser, raising $300,000 for the incumbent. Herrera saw this as a sign of Gonzales’ weakness.

“It’s funny that 3 months ago I was ‘just a YouTuber’ and ‘not a serious candidate.’ This week I forced the Speaker of the House to fly to TX to campaign for my opponent, desperate to keep his job.” He posted on X. “When your enemies are circling the wagons, it’s usually not a sign they’re winning.”

According to Politico, some Republicans fear that if Tony loses the primary, Democrats could win the district thanks to Herrera’s more extreme views. 

“The reality is if Tony doesn’t win the primary, the Dems win the seat,” said Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas).

But for some others, it wouldn’t matter.

“We barely have the seat now,” Gaetz said in an interview.

So far, a key player in the GOP infighting, former President Donald Trump, has remained neutral. 

Trump has reasons to dislike both candidates. Gonzales voted for the bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but on the other hand, Herrera has mocked his youngest son and raised questions about whether he could win a general election.

The battle between Herrera and Gonzales is intensifying as the May 28 runoff approaches. The runoff winner will face Democratic candidate Santos Limon in the general election.

Staff
Staff
Written by RA News staff.

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