Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales Censured Over Same-Sex Marriage, Guns, Border Issues

Following the Uvalde school shooting in his district, Republican US Representative Tony Gonzales of Texas was censured on Saturday in a rare step by his state party. 

This was due to his votes supporting new gun safety regulations at the time. The Texas Republican Party voted 57 to 5 with one abstention, highlighting how GOP activists and some colleagues have been irritated by the two-term congressman’s propensity to deviate from conservatives on significant issues during his brief time in office.

Because of his independence, he opposed a broad immigration plan put forth by the House Republicans that would have affected a sizable chunk of his south Texas district and included the border with Mexico.  Additionally, once Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) was elected speaker, he flatly opposed a House rules package and cast a vote in favor of same-sex marriage.

Before the vote, Gonzales was obstinate and skipped the Austin gathering of Texas GOP officials and activists. According to his publicist Sarah Young, Gonzales worked all day. The motion was discussed by party members for an hour in a closed-door executive session before the voting.

Before or after the executive session, there were no members’ public remarks, and the vote took place roughly a minute after the meeting started. Committee members then applauded and cheered. Practically speaking, a censure enables the state party to get involved if Gonzales stands for office again in 2024 and to spend money informing primary voters of the criticism. 

Committee chair Matt Rinaldi, passing a censure requires a three-fifths majority, or 39 votes, of the State Republican Executive Committee. In Gonzales’ district, local censure resolutions had already been endorsed by more than a dozen county GOP clubs.

Last year, Gonzales easily won reelection in his congressional district, which is predominately Hispanic, after winning the GOP primary. He was first elected in 2020 to fill a position that was.

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Breaking with GOP

Republican Will Hurd, who periodically broke with the party and, according to his advisers, is now thinking about running for president. As Republicans celebrate 20 years of having complete control of the Texas Legislature and every statewide office, the censure serves as an example of the intraparty disputes that still break out in America’s largest red state.

In order to launch a weak primary challenge against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas GOP Chairman Allen West resigned from his position the previous year. A former moderate Texas House speaker who opposed transgender bathroom restrictions was censured by the state party in 2018 as well.

Gonzales backed a modest, bipartisan bill on gun safety that was signed into law by President Biden in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, which claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers. 

Moreover, he is the only Texas Republican to have called for the resignation of the state’s police chief in light of the weak reaction by law enforcement to the attack in the state legislature or Congress.