U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales vastly outraises challenger Brandon Herrera ahead of heated congressional runoff

From left: U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, and his challenger in the GOP runoff, Brandon Herrera. Election Day is May 28.
U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, and his challenger in the GOP runoff, Brandon Herrera. The runoff is May 28. Credit: The Texas Tribune
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WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, raised more than twice what Republican primary challenger Brandon Herrera raised in this year’s first quarter.

In both campaigns, the candidates attracted more donations from out of state than in Texas — a sign of the national attention in the competition between an internet cultural conservative and a centrist Republican incumbent.

Gonzales’ campaign raised over $949,000 from the start of the year until March 31. He has so far raised well over $3.7 million this cycle and reported having over $1.5 million in cash on hand by the end of March.

About 56% of the over 5,000 reported donations to Gonzales’ campaign this cycle have been from out of state and include large-number figures from corporate interests. The campaign arms of energy, agriculture and telecommunication companies have all donated the maximum permissible amount for political action committees, as has the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Herrera, meanwhile, has raised over $401,000 in the first quarter with over $1.2 million raised so far this cycle. He finished March with just over $302,000 in cash on hand.

A far larger percentage of Herrera’s funds come from small dollar donations, and about two-thirds of his 479 contributions to his campaign have been from out-of-state donors this cycle. Herrera often uses his YouTube channel to encourage donations to his effort. His YouTube channel has over 3.3 million subscribers across the country.

Herrera has faced criticisms from Gonzales’ camp that he and his support are not really based in the district. Herrera voted in North Carolina for most of his life. Herrera retorts that he has lived in San Antonio for years.

“Nobody knows TX-23 better and nobody works harder than Tony Gonzales. Week in and week out Tony Gonzales fights for Texas and delivers results,” said Evan Albertson, a spokesperson for Gonzales’ campaign. “Brandon Herrera, on the other hand, spends his time trashing Donald Trump and his family, mocking Governor Abbott, and joking about veteran suicide,” — referring to comments Herrera has made on podcast appearances and his YouTube channel.

This cycle is the first in the 23rd Congressional District since the Texas Republican Party censured Gonzales over policy positions it deemed ideologically out of line. Gonzales faced four primary challengers who all came for Gonzales with a more hardline right-wing platform. Gonzales was unable to stave off a runoff, coming only 5 percentage points away from securing the nomination in last month’s primary election. Herrera secured just under 25% of the vote.

It is Gonzales’ most competitive election since he was first elected to Congress in 2020, when the district boundaries were more competitive in the general election. Gonzales easily secured his party’s nomination with 78% of the vote in his 2022 primary.

Herrera made a name for himself as a provocative YouTuber focusing on guns. He has blasted Gonzales for his support of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a major gun safety law that passed in the wake of the Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde. The district includes Uvalde, and the gun safety bill brought millions in federal grants to Uvalde.

The runoff election is May 28. The winner will face off against Democrat Santos Limon in November, though the district leans Republican.

Carla Astudillo contributed to this report.

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