SAN ANTONIO - – It took until the wee hours of the morning Wednesday for Republican Tony Gonzales to be declared the winner in the U.S. Rep. District 23 race.
Gonzales beat Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones to succeed Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican, who decided not to seek re-election.
In an interview Wednesday, Gonzales said he is ready to unite the largest, often most divided district in Texas.
“District 23 is as tough as it gets, and we performed really well last night. I’m just excited. I’m proud,” Gonzales said.
The race was grueling, campaigning in a district that spans 58,000 square miles, from San Antonio to El Paso and 600 miles along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Gina Ortiz Jones(D)
(344 / 344)
Gonzales received 51% of the vote to 46% for Ortiz Jones. So the question now is, how does Gonzales appease that 46%?
“I love America,” he said. “I’m the American dream. I served in the military where you didn’t ask the person next to you, ‘Are you a Democrat or a Republican?’ Campaigns are built to divide and governing is built to unite. Part of that starts by me helping to heal and bringing us together.”
KSAT 12 News asked Gonzales if he has any specific plans on how to do that.
“Yeah, look, this morning I made all these phone calls to people that have won their races and not all of them are Republicans. So, I think that’s step one, is just reaching out and saying, ‘Congratulations, I look forward to working with you’ from the local level to the state level to the federal level," he said.
During the campaign, Ortiz Jones focused on healthcare, saying Gonzales would eliminate coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
When asked if that was true, he said, “My voice is always so raspy. It’s not because I’m a nighttime singer. It’s because I deal with a preexisting condition, so, of course I will always protect that.
Gonzales knows his constituents are prioritizing COVID-19 as a top issue.
“It’s how we safely get back to work. How do we safely get to work, to school, to church? How do we safely reopen our border with Mexico for economic purposes?” he said.
Though Gonzales will soon head to Washington D.C., he promised not to lose touch with the people of District 23.
“At the end of the day it’s for me to reflect the district, not for me to tell the district what is best for them,” he said.
Early Wednesday morning when the votes were finalized, Ortiz Jones released a concession statement:
"Our campaign was based on the belief that everyone is equal -- equally deserving to be heard at the ballot box and served in our communities. We worked hard to make this a reality, understanding this is the only path toward the more perfect union that our founders envisioned.
“While we came up short this time, we ran a race of which we can be proud. I remain committed to serving my community and country, and I wish Will Hurd the courage to fight for TX-23 in the way in which our district deserves.”