‘It is our problem to solve’: US Rep. Tony Gonzales discusses gratitude, mistakes, new goals after winning runoff

The contentious race between Gonzales and social media content creator Brandon Herrera ended with a 407 vote difference

SAN ANTONIO – A race that brought a lot of attention from the start remained dramatic until the very end.

After Tuesday’s nail-biter, Republican incumbent Tony Gonzales earned the runoff win for U.S. District 23 by just 407 votes.

The race was filled with attack ads between Gonzales and political newcomer/social media content creator Brandon Herrera.

Herrera is a gun activist who aligns with far-right conservatives. His race focused on gun rights and closing the Texas-Mexico border by first finishing the border wall.

“Runoffs are just brutal. They’re absolutely brutal. There’s nothing like it,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales’ slim victory was something he acknowledged and said he was taking to heart.

“I don’t take that lightly. Just grateful once again,” Gonzales said.

Before and after the results came through on Tuesday, neither candidate were made available for interviews or public watch parties.

Gonzales held a virtual news conference on Wednesday, but he only answered two questions from the many reporters on the Zoom call.

A portion of Gonzales’ comments centered on the necessity for him to make a greater reach across his massive district.

District 23 spans 29 counties from San Antonio to El Paso, and makes up about two-thirds of the Texas-Mexico border.

“Now, how do I listen to the other folks that did not, they did not, cast their vote for me this round?” Gonzales asked rhetorically. “Why didn’t they cast their vote for me? What can we do to make sure that they feel as if they’re represented?”

Gonzales said it is a challenge to get everyone in his district on the same page.

“I know firsthand you’re never going to please everyone, and nor should you try to please everyone. Just do the best job you possibly can,” Gonzales said. “I look at this victory and it’s about being humble and it’s about getting stronger.”

This win also comes after the Texas GOP successfully voted to censure Gonzales in March 2023. The group cited a lack of loyalty to Republican priorities regarding issues like gun reform after the Uvalde shooting, same-sex marriage and certain border security measures.

The censure is a formal disapproval that cut Gonzales from the state’s GOP funds and discouraged him from running as a Republican in the primary election runoff.

The penalty expired Tuesday, the day of the primary runoff.

Despite the censure vote, Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick supported Gonzales, as did many other Republicans across the state.

After the censure, Gonzales was unphased and confident in his record and of his chances going into the election.

Gonzales said the word to describe his goal moving forward is “listening.”

“I’d be the first to admit, I have made mistakes. I’ve only been in politics three years, so I think there’s clearly some growing to do,” Gonzales said. “And I look forward to that, once again, just being able to connect.”

Gonzales said that the Texas-Mexico border will continue to be his top priority until changes are made.

“We are done with this hell. We’re tired of the high-speed chases. We’re tired of having our property being exploited. It is our hospitals that get consumed. It is our schools that get consumed,” Gonzales said.

There are other big-picture legislative goals Gonzales has on his radar, as well.

“I have a conservative track record. How do we prevent the federal government from overspending?” Gonzales said. “The national debt is through the roof. How do you prevent legislation from getting over the finish line? Bad legislation that is going to cripple Americans.”

In the end, Gonzales said nothing will happen until the finger-pointing stops.

“It’s always somebody else’s fault, and I’m trying to solve the problem,” Gonzales said. “It is our problem to solve. All of us. I don’t care where you fall on the spectrum.”

Directly across the spectrum is Gonzales’ new opponent, Democrat Santos Limon, in November’s general election.

KSAT was told early Tuesday afternoon before polls even closed that challenger Brandon Herrera would not be available for comments that day.

KSAT checked back in with Herrera’s campaign on Wednesday but have yet to receive a response.

For more of KSAT’s Tuesday night election coverage, click here.

More related coverage on KSAT:

Tony Gonzales declares victory with 400 votes more than Brandon Herrera in GOP runoff for US Representative District 23

US Rep. Tony Gonzales unphased by Texas GOP censure

About the Authors

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.

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